This is Where Patient Advocacy Comes to Life

 Published: August 7, 2017

By: Fernanda Teixeira


Patient Advocacy
RTs who have been on hand for past Summits attest to the value of the meeting.

Respiratory therapists will travel to Indianapolis this October for AARC Congress 2017; however, one of the most meaningful aspects of the meeting will actually take place the day before the big event kicks off. That’s when AARC members will gather with patients and caregivers to brainstorm ways to bring patient and family concerns to the forefront of national attention.

Empowering experience

“The Respiratory Patient Advocacy Summit is a pathway to connect patients with respiratory therapists without being in a clinical environment,” said Amber Galer, BS, RRT, the 2017 Summit Coordinator. “It also provides the opportunity for all to join multiple lung health associations in a rare group setting for expert advice and resources.”

Galer believes patients and family members benefit from the wealth of resources provided during the session while RTs in attendance increase their knowledge base and gain new motivation to help improve the lives of chronic lung disease patients in their own communities.

“There really is no other gathering like it at the AARC Congress,” she says. “The schedule is packed with education, resources, and an expert panel for full community support. It’s a fun way to conquer hard topics and is sure to empower anyone who attends.”

We’re fighting for them

RTs who have been on hand for past Summits attest to the value of the meeting.

“We, as an organization alone, cannot have the same impact as we can when we work together with those affected by pulmonary disease,” said Kitty Collins, RRT and the AARC member who made it possible for a number of patients and caregivers in the Austin, TX area to travel to the session at last year’s Congress in San Antonio.

The Summit provides an opportunity for patients to speak about their concerns and what they need to help them better manage their conditions.

“It means the world to them to have someone not only listen, but hear their stories and know that someone is on their side and understands their unique challenges,” Collins said.

She believes the AARC benefits too, simply by providing that connection.

“As an RT I know that the AARC is fighting for them, and although I let my patients know that, it’s not the same as seeing our organization in action,” Collins said.

‘Connect to purpose’ moments

Mark Mangus, BSRC, RRT, FAARC, has attended the last two Summits — the first as an attendee and the second as a speaker, along with his daughter and fellow RT Kim, who has cystic fibrosis. He’ll also be at the Summit in Indianapolis.

“It is important to continue the dialogue begun with the first two Summits and to foster growth in attendance among all who treat, support, and advocate for those with chronic lung disease and to bring us together with those we seek to help,” Mangus said. “We need to continue to listen to their voice to improve the effectiveness of our role in their care and to better understand their challenges and needs.”

Amanda Richter, MHA, RRT-NPS, FACHE, attended for the first time last year and will also be there again in Indianapolis.

“I really felt that attending last year helped motivate me and remind me of my purpose as a respiratory care practitioner,” Richter said. “As a leader, I don’t get as much time at the bedside and with patients as I used to. I think these ‘connect to purpose’ moments are important.”

She believes the Summit helps RTs understand the experiences, challenges, and needs of their pulmonary patients.

“It was such a great reminder of why we are here and do what we do,” said Richter.

Priceless friendships

Galer further added that it was her own attendance at previous Summits that led to her role as coordinator for this year’s event, and it ended up spurring her involvement in other lung health advocacy initiatives back home as well.

“The Summit allowed me the opportunity to be myself around patients and permitted time to interact with them at their comfort level,” she said. “Priceless lifelong friendships have developed from this exclusive event.”

Interested in attending this year’s Summit in Indianapolis? Check out the agenda and register today.

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

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