Monday, August 25, 2008

The Real Deal

A few months ago, when the wonderful world of RT struck my interest, I went to talk to an RT just to get a feel for what they do and what to expect. It was a great experience, it was intriguing, the RT I met with explained the daily actions of an RT. My expectation was to spend a few minutes soaking up all I could get, until the RT had to go off and preform miracles. To my surprise, as you RT's may already know, RT's are not always busy. I ended up spending a few hours talking about everything from RT school to ventilator pressures. I probably could have spent a few more hours there.
As our conversation was coming to an end, he gave me the head RT's cell number because I had asked if were possible to shadow. I thanked him and we went our separate ways.
Today, I called the head of the RT department, he was almost bothered that I had his phone number. Immediately after I stated the purpose of the phone call, he asked, "how did you get this number?!" I paused because I did not want to get the RT I had previously spoken with, in trouble. I just mentioned that I had dropped by his department to ask the RT's a few questions and they gave me the number. After that he seemed to ease his slip of anger.
During our conversation I mentioned which school I would be attending, with a sigh and hint of relief, he quick said, "the school should set up a shadow day for you then." I already knew this and explained to him that I did not want to go through the schools assigned, if not fake, job shadow day. There is no doubt that the experience would be but a mere fabricated act to entice me to join their school. He understood, and gave me the number to the HR department to set up the appointment.

To make a long story short, HR does not allow job shadows. What do I do now?? I will have to try a different hospital. We will see, I might end up having to go through the school after all. My main concern is to just experience the real deal. I hope I can.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Patient Care 101

RT's Job description: evaluate, treat, coach patients with respiratory disorders, monitor and set equipment controls, read and evaluate physicians orders, and be a motivational speaker...wait a minute...motivational speaker??

Something that they might not teach in school, that has everything to do with patient care, is how to have a positive, motivational, and uplifting attitude, in a serious if not life threatening situation. For example, if you show the patient that you are scared or afraid then, of course, they will be too. If you are calm yet genuinely concerned for the patient, the patient will develop a trust and remain more calm then they otherwise would.

I can only attest to this type of situation because I know what it feels like to be in the patients shoes. I was right by my wife side when we had our first daughter. On the sunny morning of march 25th 2006, around 7 o'clock in the morning, my wife's water broke. We got up, got ready, drove to the hospital, and a couple hours later she was dilated to a 4 or 5. All fairly normal. After, that it all started to go down hill. We started to watch the monitor, and the heart rate of the baby drop. It was a somewhat slow process, 80...70...60 beats per minute, this caused us some concern. At the time, there wasn't anybody in the room. So, being a normal, worried soon to be father, I quickly went to go get the nurse. As the nurse entered the room the babies heart beat remained constant around 60 bpm, of course! The nurse was almost annoyed that I brought her in. She checked to monitor and said "it's fine" and walked out the room. In deed, my feelings about this was not all that reassuring, nor was my wife's. Soon after, we watched the stats of the baby continue to fall...50...40... "Okay! I am going to go get the nurse again!" I blurted to my wife as I was already half way out the door. This time as the nurse came in, there was a different feeling, a feeling of panic. The nurse quickly checked the connections to the monitor and the connections to my wife... they were all in place. The nurse called quickly for the doctor and the anesthesiologist. As the situation got worse, the panic of this particular nurse steadily grew; as she did, so did I. They decided to wheel my wife quickly into the O.R. to prep to do a Cesarean. As soon as we got in to the O.R. the babies stats shot right back up. "The baby is just playing with us," I thought to myself. So we went back into our room without continuing with the c-section. Of course to our surprise, the babies heart rate plummeted again once we got back into the room. The nurse quickly ran in, freaking out and scaring the crap out of us at the same time. We quickly went back to the O.R. and the doctor, being calm and steady said "don't worry mom and dad, we will have this baby out in less then 5 minutes." I think at that point, my wife and I both felt better knowing that we were in good hands from here on out. And sure enough, our daughter was out breathing and crying within 5 minutes. It was a great experience.

I am glad that the end results turned out the way they did. The only thing that really bothered us was that nurse. She revealed to much of what she was feeling. She showed her disinterest in our situation at the beginning, and then she realized how serious the situation was and started to worry. Whether she was worried more about her job because she had taken light a serious situation or she worried about the baby, I don't know.

By having this experience I can seen how important it is to stay calm through these types of situations. That is why RT's have a much larger role then one might think. I read an interesting blog about RT's being motivational speakers that peaked my interest. I recommend reading it. He mentions that "sometimes we come across patients that don't understand the severity of their condition, patients who are lazy or unfortunately, patients who have given up all together. This is when it is essential that we, as therapists, motivate the patient."
Most of this may be common sense to you RT's that have been in the field for a while. Those that are just getting started may have seen RT's react different to different scenarios. We have to motivate and encourage each patient because that could make all the difference in their survival. Can you imagine how a 8 year old asthmatic, suffering from an asthma attack, would react if he had an RT that was frantic? Of course, it would only make matters worse.

RT's please share any experiences that you might have in this area. What do you think? Do you think this is important while treating a patient? Any tips on how to motivate the patient would be great.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

30 Years or More!

There are few important major decisions that must be made in life. In my opinion those decisions all fall into the following categories: marriage, children, religion, and career. All unique and different in their own sense and context. For me the first of the three categories were the easiest. The last of the listed subjects has been most difficult and time consuming. For several years I have been back and forth regarding this subject, contemplating what I would be best at doing for 30 years of my life or more. I did not want to subjugate so much of my time and energy into something that was undesirable and meaningless. Some may joke at the many jobs and careers I have had and considered. Some may also say that my time has been wasted in obtaining so many diverse positions, in so many different trades. However, I would rather have spent that time now, then to realize, ten years down the road I am miserable and bored. I have made a list of important aspects of a good career:

• Community Oriented
• Service based
• Somewhere I Can Make a Difference
• Flexible Time (so I can be with my family)
• Professional
• Be Able to Support a Family (regarding to wage)
• Friendly Environment
• Requires Specific Educational Background

For centuries men have been most of afraid of the unknown. I have taken this same approach when it comes to medicine, doctors, hospitals, etc. The medical field was a big unknown for me. Since I have been married however, I have been introduced to the world of medicine. When I met my wife, she worked in a pediatric office as a medical assistant. I was most intimidated by her and her knowledge of the medical field. Over the years that we have been married she has shared a little of that knowledge with me. Some of our most exciting conversations (or debates) have been about the medical field. Each time we talk about it a rush comes over me yearning to know more. I think more than anything, to me it is the challenge, the knowledge that is needed in order to save a life.

Love what you do or it will come after you sooner or later.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Patient vs. Profit

I want to thank all of those that have inspired me in the RT field, such as Respiratory Therapy Driven, the RT cave, and etc. I recommend reading their blogs and familiarizing yourself with the on going discussions that go on. Through their experiences I have learned the goods and the bads about the RT career field.

It is hard to understand the balance between the importance of patient care vs. profit. The RT cave touches on this subject a bit. Doctors often request treatments on patient that, well lets face it, are not always necessary. Sometimes it becomes a matter of money.

I currently have two small children and often times they develop ear infections. It almost seems pointless everytime they get an infection to make a trip to the doctors office and pay the $20 co-pay, just to have the doctor prescribe amoxicillin. It is not difficult to tell when a child has an ear infection, they are irritable, tired, grab and scratch their ears. Even I can make that observation and I have little to no experience in the medical field. So needless to say, it is not unreasonable to think that not everything that doctors say is doctrine.

On the other hand, hospitals do need an income and they are still a business that has net incomes and provides money making jobs to many people?

Of course, many people that go into the medical field say "I want to help people" or "I want to make a difference" even though these are very typical sayings, it is for the most part true.

I believe I have room to speak here because I have been in and out of jobs, that I feel, are not important. Not that these jobs don't help, because when you get down to it, who is going to transport the groceries to the stores, or help someone buy a house, or spray pesticides in an infested area. Of course, these jobs (or careers) are all important and someone has to do it. However, I cannot think of anything more important than the gift of breath, if I can be an instrument in helping someone accomplish that, then I "gotta have it."

Now, I don't want to talk it up on the RT side of things and have you think that it is all glamorous. Because I am sure that I will face things that it will make me wonder why I even got in to this field. For me, I am a goal oriented person, I like to accomplish projects and see the results transpire in front of my eyes. I guess you could say that I need that instant gratification. That is exactly why it will be difficult when I do lose a patient because I will hold myself personally responsible.

The fact of the matter is that a hospital has to produce an income and people need help. The difficult part is not to get side tracked from what really matters. What really matters is that people get hurt, have diseases, and need help. It is easy to get in that mode, where all that matters is the quarterly projections, and yes while these number are important, you have to remember those that we treat are real people not just numbers. The reason that the numbers are important is because the numbers depend on whether or not the hospital stays open or if they can expand their resources and provide more help and opportunity for others.

"Gotta have it"

Over the past few months I have been doing extensive research in the field of respiratory therapy. In my opinion there are three types of people when it comes to the medical field, the ones that hate it, are okay with it, and those that enjoy it. To give a perfect example of the "hate it" group... my sister delivered her first child about a year ago, while she was in labor she got so worked up over the fact that she was in a hospital that the doctors were forced to preform a Cesarean (c-section) this fear is also known as "white coat syndrome." The second class of people, those that are just "okay with it" could probably go there whole life in and out of hospitals and not really care one way or the other. The third group, "those that enjoy it," these a special type of people.

Now with in the "enjoy it" class there are three more types of people, "like it, love it, and gotta have it" you may recognize these names from an ice cream shop called Coldstone.

These different categories would be compared to a receptionists working in hospitals or clinic(like it), nurses (love it), and an ER nurses (gotta have it.) Which category do you think RT should be in? Which group do you fall under?