#AARCmemberforlife | My Journey as an AARC Member

 Published: December 26, 2019

By: Heather Willden

Diamond Tildon at the AARC Congress
Diamond Tildon at the AARC Congress

By Diamond Tildon, RRT

The value I have in being a part of our professional organization is beyond what some may think.

Working to meet our needs

First, as a student, I was informed of our state society, the Respiratory Care Society of Washington (RCSW), and our national affiliate, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). I quickly learned our association was built with extraordinary respiratory therapists, from around the nation, volunteering for us!

The AARC is our voice on a national level, supporting our state societies, providing continuing education credits, professional support, advancement and scholarship opportunities to all licensed therapists and respiratory care students alike. I have been an AARC member since the start of my student career in 2014. Once a member of AARC, I quickly felt the benefits in the form of OPPORTUNITY! OPPORTUNITY! OPPORTUNITY!

Member benefits

Diamond Tildon (left) taking part in the AARC House of Delegates
AARC House of Delegates Meeting
Top: Diamond Tildon (left) taking part in the AARC House of Delegates. Above: AARC House of Delegates Meeting.

My first benefit after becoming an AARC member began as a student. Our professor Greg Carter always informed students of any opportunities for us within the RCSW or AARC. Because of this I did not miss the chance to apply for the AARC student mentorship program and applied to sit at the AARC House of Delegates (HOD) meeting in Tampa Florida in 2015. I was one of four students from Washington that year accepted to be in attendance. This opportunity opened the door igniting so much excitement for my career!

While at the AARC HOD, I had the chance to network with legends in our field, meet students from around the U.S., and build relationships that are still strong today. The population of respiratory therapists may seem big—but it truly is a close community when a part of the AARC.

Opportunities abound

Being a member of the AARC allowed for such opportunities as:

  • Meeting and networking with leaders in our field, developing several connections around the U.S.
  • Building future career opportunities with managers from around the U.S.
  • Putting a face to the name when it comes to my resume, setting me apart after graduation.
  • Volunteering within my own state society as a student, which has blossomed into holding two positions post-graduation: the RCSW Student Engagement Committee (SEC) Chair and RCSW Rainier Chapter President.
  • Writing articles for both the AARC and RCSW.
  • Networking in real-time with leaders in our field via AARConnect.
  • Along with the SEC, creating our Annual Student Symposium at our state’s regional conference. This is still going strong after several years, all put together with student input and planning.

I love having the knowledge and skills to help others in need by being a respiratory therapist. But the root of my passion and excitement stemmed from my time at the AARC HOD and Congress.

Tips for success

Lastly, as a student, it is CRUCIAL to know who your state society is, connect with them, ask how you can get involved and attend a board meeting or anything similar.

The AARC and your state societies are here for you; they want to see you succeed as a young professional and support your growth 100%.

Being a member as a student will catapult you on an opportunity-led path if you so choose. Where you feel respected, lifted, and inspired! #AARCmemberforlife

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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