An interview was conducted with Alison, a Respiratory Therapist working in the NICU. She is responsible for a variety of tasks that involve respiratory care for newborns and infants, particularly if they are born premature or face any type of lung difficulties at and after birth. As part of her role, she is licensed by the state to perform her duties and is responsible for upholding the rules and regulations set forth by the National Board of Respiratory Care, and in this capacity, Alison is trained to provide specialty respiratory care, which includes neonatal/pediatric expertise and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment to her patients as necessary (Rush University Medical Center, 2016). Her role also involves providing immediate treatment to patients when life support is required, along with providing resuscitation efforts as needed (Rush University Medical Center, 2016).
Alison’s role in the NICU is highly diverse and requires her knowledge and expertise on a daily basis in order to make decisions that involve life-threatening issues for her patients. Therefore, she must exhibit a high degree of calm, patience, and support of her patients and their family members. It is imperative that Alison is able to provide significant insight into a patient’s condition and to administer the care that is required to ensure that a patient is able to survive with a serious respiratory condition or issue. This role requires her to be mindful of her ability collaborate with other team members and to recognize the importance of a team effort in this process, while also considering how to impact patient care in a positive manner. She is also cognizant of her responsibility to maintain the proper training and education regarding the use of equipment and the techniques that are utilized within the NICU so that she is skillfully prepared to provide care and treatment the highest possible level. In this capacity, Alison must make rapid decisions, communicate openly and effectively, and demonstrate her ability to provide exemplary care and treatment under a variety of circumstances.
Throughout the interview, Alison discussed her role and her commitment to providing care to her patients and recognizes their vulnerability and the need to enable these newborns and infants to survive with an acceptable quality of life. This is important to her and serves as a reminder that she is committed to providing a supportive and caring environment for her patients and their family members. This is a necessary step because she must continue to explore the options that are available to have a positive and meaningful impact on her patients that is based upon her knowledge and skillset. In addition, she must be prepared to manage a variety of tasks that include intubation, administering surfactants as necessary, administering blood gases and nitric oxide as required, transporting patients to different areas, and providing assistance in the delivery room when there is a high-risk patient (Rush University Medical Center, 2016). These responsibilities are critical in her role and comprise a number of important opportunities for growth and development at a very high level.
Finally, Alison recognizes that her role continues to evolve and that she must be flexible as needed to accommodate patients under different circumstances. This reflects a need to make quick decisions, to work well with others, to communicate verbally, via emails, and through charts in an accurate manner, and to make sense of the challenges that this role brings on a daily basis. Her ability to remain calm and to establish a steady demeanor is essential and supports the role of respiratory therapy in treating newborns and infants in the NICU under difficult and often dire circumstances. Her role is continuously evolving and requires her to analyze and interpret data in different ways that have a direct impact on patient health and wellbeing, along with an even greater impact on the overall development of this role and its ability to influence many patient outcomes.
From an ethical perspective, Alison must be prepared to adhere to the ethical principles established by the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC), which requires a greater understanding of the core values and beliefs of the profession and how to uphold ethical standards and decision-making at a consistent level. Most importantly, Alison must practice in a manner that is consistent with integrity and trust, along with an understanding of the importance of continuing education (AARC, 2015). From this perspective, it is essential to respect the dignity and quality of life of all patients who are treated and to provide care that is non-discriminatory in nature at all times (AARC, 2015). Alison must possess the most updated knowledge regarding disease management and must represent her field and the ethical principles that have been established by the AARC as best as possible (AARC, 2015). Alison must uphold the requirements of the profession and of her licensure within the field and be able to overcome adversity in a manner that is appropriate in meeting patient care needs (AARC, 2015).
Alison’s role as a respiratory therapist is complex, but perhaps most important is her identity as an ethically responsible professional who makes decisions that are in the best interests of her patients (AARC, 2015). This reflects the importance of eliminating conflicts of interest, refusing to act in a manner of conduct that is fraudulent or which promotes incompetent behavior, and meeting the ethical requirements of the profession at all times (AARC, 2015). Alison recognizes her responsibility to her patients, their families, to her colleagues, and to her profession; therefore, she aims to exercise sound and reasonable professional judgment on a regular basis as best as possible.
- American Association of Respiratory Care (2015). AARC Statement of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Retrieved from https://www.aarc.org/app/uploads/2015/05/aarc-statement-of-ethics-and-professional-conduct.pdf
- Rush University Medical Center (2016). NICU: What we do. Retrieved from https://www.rush.edu/services-treatments/neonatal-intensive-care-unit/nicu-team-and-what-they-do-rush-university-medical