The Essential Role of Respiratory Therapy Educators

Respiratory Therapist Educator

During National Respiratory Care Week, we are celebrating our exceptional Respiratory Therapy team and recognizing all they do for our patients.

Respiratory Therapy Director Dawn Ayala reports that Bethany Children’s is currently caring for a record number of patients on ventilators. Given that approximately 90 percent of our patient population requires some sort of respiratory therapy modalities, the role of our Respiratory Therapy (RT) Educators becomes even more crucial. They provide intensive training to caregivers, who undergo six to eight weeks of respiratory specific training and are encouraged to participate in their loved ones’ care by obtaining more hands-on experience. The educators are available to staff and families for additional training, as needed. 

Melissa Dozier, one of our dedicated Respiratory Therapy Educators, provides valuable insight into our role as RT educators: “In our capacity as RT educators, we train all families whose child has any sort of respiratory medication or therapy. This includes things as simple as a pulse oximeter all the way to trach changes, mechanical ventilation and even the phrenic nerve diaphragmatic pacer. One of the most important aspects of our training is building the confidence in caregivers and giving them the tools to be able to handle emergent situations.”

Respiratory Therapy Educator Adrienne Reid adds that training caregivers requires patience, nurturing and empathy for the patient and their caregivers. She strives to build a rapport with patients and families, while always showing the highest care and concern for all. 

“Watching a family successfully complete their respiratory therapy training and continue home is extremely fulfilling,” Adrienne says.

For Melissa, sending a family home after a lengthy and challenging training period is a proud moment.

“Changing a trach for the first time can be scary. Learning about alarms and settings on the ventilator can be scary,” she shares. “I ask them to trust that I am not going to let them do anything to harm their child, and trust me to give them the tools to care for their child by themselves, away from the security of the hospital. Quite a few of our families have never been home with their child. I am so lucky because I get to see caregivers’ dreams of taking their child home for the first time become a reality.”

In addition to training patient families, the RT educators train 90 percent of patient-facing staff, including nurses, therapists, teachers, ADL specialists and even residents at the hospital for clinicals. This helps ensure the safety of patients as they move throughout the facility.

“Most new employees receive minimal respiratory education during school,” says Respiratory Therapy Educator Jessica Cowns. “Coming into a facility that is very respiratory heavy probably feels intimidating. Training staff can help ease anxiety, build confidence and increase patient safety.”

Respiratory Therapy education not only enhances the quality of patient care during their stay but also provides lasting benefits for families well beyond their time at Bethany Children’s.

“After a child is diagnosed with a life-changing illness or involved in a traumatic accident, it affects the entire family. Normal family routines are changed, and parents can feel a loss of control,” Jessica says. “Education at Bethany Children’s allows families to be active participants in their child’s care. It’s a lot of work, but giving our families the ability to have a routine and a sense of control in what has been a life changing experience is priceless.”

Please share in our gratitude for the entire Respiratory Therapy team and the value they bring to our staff, patients and families!

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