I received an E-mail from the National Association of Respiratory Therapists the other day saying congratulations on the anniversary of you credentials.  It made me thing how long I have been around the field of respiratory and sleep and what changes have I seen.  It also allowed me to draw several parallels from the two fields. 

When I went to school in Paramus NJ back in the 1980’s Respiratory therapy still had many OJTs in the field.  They did not have licensure.  They had many school with certificate programs rather than AAS degrees and there were only a handful of BS degrees in the country.  It was a young field with a great deal of potential and was finding its way in the healthcare arena. 

I was truly lucky I had the best instructors who allowed me to see a great future in the field and drove me to be the best therapist I could be.  They encouraged the whole class to take not just our CRTT exam but to take our RRT as soon as we were eligible.  They taught us not just the minimum we needed to pass the exams but also those skills we would need to grow with the field.  It was truly a program ahead of its time.  When I look at where many of my classmates are I see several who have run departments and gone into management and I believe there are a teacher or two from then as well. 

When I look at the field of sleep which I have been in for 10+ years ( I know where does the time go) I see so many parallels and I am excited about its future because I see so many great people stepping up to the plate and leading.  I see programs starting to develop across the country.  I have even had a hand in one.  I see people taking on leadership roles and state societies emerging and helping to develop licensure laws.  I even see a future where sleep will need its own degree program in order to keep up with the field as a while.  That is if we can stop the infighting and focus on the future instead of who is right and who is wrong.  We need to take that leadership on ourselves instead of letting other people take it over. 

What do I see has happened to me and my job since 1987 when I graduated my Respiratory program, I see a world where we have changed how patients are treated when it comes to breathing disorders.  I see a world where care has more scientific study than ever before.  I see a great deal of potential.


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