Cheering for Your Team

 Published: January 15, 2020

By: Heather Willden


image of business professionals high fiving.

You do great work each day. Your entire department does great work. But, does anyone outside your department know about it?

Showing value—whether directly or indirectly—to colleagues beyond your department significantly helps build credibility and can boost morale.

Share What’s Important

“Find out what is important to your administrators and figure out how respiratory therapists can make an impact,” said Lyndee Knisely, MBA, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-SDS, AE-C, of Pennsylvania. “Focus less on what services are reimbursable and more on metrics that use cost avoidance.”

She offered the following topic examples administrators may find relevant: disease management/education, reducing length of stay, reduce infection rates (VAEs, HAPIs), increase quality and safety.

Support evidence-based medicine

Knisely suggests using therapist-driven protocols in order to use evidence-based medicine. Doing so can increase efficiency without sacrificing safety or quality, such as reducing unnecessary treatments.

Build relationships

“Connect and build relationships with other successful leaders,” Knisely said.

In addition to building relationships with other leaders, she recommends investing in your employees in order to grow and develop your team.

“Truly listen and care,” she said. “Love your people and what you do.”

The RT Team at York Hospital during Heart Month
Lyndee Knisely, MBA, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-SDS, AE-C, (shown above with her team during Heart Month) has been a respiratory therapist for 21 years and currently serves as the director of pulmonary services for WellSpan Health in York, Pennsylvania. She holds a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care from York College and a master’s degree in business administration from Eastern University. She is currently a student at Liberty University earning credits toward a PhD in Education, concentrating in organizational leadership. Her department recently earned the 2019-2020 AARC APEX Award, one of only 12 care hospitals in the nation to earn this award.

Be present and visible

“In the big world of health care and allied health professions, we need to constantly be proving our value as respiratory therapists,” said Aaron Shepherd MHA, RRT. “One of the most simple and important ways that a respiratory therapy department can show its value is by having RTs present and visible in the ICUs.”

Shepherd continues to explain how RTs can provide tremendous support and peace of mind to both nurses and physicians when we are physically present on the unit.

“RTs need to be easily accessible in the ICUs,” Shepherd said. “If we can’t be found when the ICU team or a patient really needs us, we start to lose our value. ICUs need RTs!”

Respond quickly and effectively

Shepherd considers RTs to be the “paramedics of the hospital.” In fact, it’s one of his favorite characteristics of the profession.

“Because we touch every part of the hospital from the floors, to the ICUs, to the ERs, respiratory therapists have extraordinary patient assessment skills, often seeing what others can’t see,” Shepherd said. “This is another great opportunity to show our value!”

Shepherd suggests that when respiratory therapy is called to assess or assist a patient, RTs should respond quickly and take every opportunity to teach others what they know.

“By doing this, not only can a respiratory department provide great patient care, but they will also be providing great service to the internal customer, which includes all of our fellow health care professionals,” Shepherd said. “This is how we can show our value.”

Aaron Shepherd and his team
Originally from Ogden, UT, Aaron Shepherd, MHA, RRT, (shown above with his team) attended the respiratory therapy program at Weber State University. He’s been a respiratory therapist since 2006. In 2018 he relocated to Columbia, Missouri to become the Manager of Respiratory Therapy for the University of Missouri Health System.
“An essential piece of equipment we keep on-hand is a guitar,” Shepherd said, reflecting on the above photo. “Our ICU Team Leader Troy plays some music to keep me and the RTs calm during those busy winter months.”

Embrace the new

“Always embrace new initiatives having value for your patients and your institution,” said Bob Yost, RRT, RRT-NPS. “When approached, look to say, ‘We will absolutely help with that!’”

For example, Yost’s department plays a role in a variety of initiatives, ranging from pioneering new EMR modules to creating four respiratory disease care maps.

Help your colleagues

You and your colleagues have the same goal: to deliver quality patient care.

“Make the lives of your fellow caregivers easier whenever possible,” Yost said.

He shared an example of how he and his department took the time to understand that other caregivers who don’t work with home ventilator patients often may not be comfortable or confident in their skills. His team responds with the message: “Your therapist will handle all ventilator performance charting for the rest of your shift. Relax. We’ve got that. Call us for any questions.”

“Our RN’s have loved it,” Yost said.

Team at East Tenessee Children's Hospital
A group of therapists responsible for 24-hours of care on Med/Surg units at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Bob Yost, RRT, RRT-NPS, is currently the education coordinator for respiratory care at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. He graduated from the respiratory care program at Wichita State University in 1976. Almost 44 years later, he remains as fascinated by the profession as he was in 1976.

Email 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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