Trau·ma  Junk· ie  ( 'trau-m&  'j&[ng]-kE) n. Slang
  1. One who has an insatiable interest, devotion or addiction to responding and assisting people with serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.

Always Remember

The thing I love about respiratory therapy is that I'm always learning new things. A lot of these things are learned in the classroom, but a lot of them are things they just can't teach you in school. Some of them, hard lessons. Some of them, just things you pick up on. Just as important as it is to have textbook knowledge and common sense, it's also important to pay attention to these type of lessons, as well.

The most recent thing I've learned is that, in Respiratory Therapy, you have to find a balance. If you want to be good at what you do, and do it for a long time, remember that it isn't about saving lives. Remember that you aren't just there to make people better. Remember, above all, that your purpose is to make a difference, however you can do so. In the past week, I've:

  • Watched three people die
  • Saw one patient go from bad to worse
  • Seen a brilliant classmate and good friend kicked out of the RT program due to illicit drug use (I had no idea...)
  • Watched a patient improve significantly o--ver the course of a day, then fall back to critical condition even quicker
  • Treated two MIs, three MVCs, and four people in respiratory arrest.
A difficult conclusion for me to come to, although it seems so obvious, is that working in healthcare isn't all about glory days. Real life is nothing like TV. You don't go home happy every day, and not every single one of your patients will walk out of the hospital. Some will go home, some to the nursing home, and some to Heaven.

At the same time, in the past week or so, I've:

  • Witnessed my first "successful" code-- I didn't work it, but still.
  • Weaned and extubated 3 patients who are now saturating just fine on room air
  • Placed a patient on BiPAP, avoiding intubation (they were since weaned from BiPAP and doing fine on 2L NC)
  • Received a few "thank yous" for the care I've given
  • Terminally extubated a patient (sometimes called "pulling the plug"), at the wishes of the family/Power of Attorney, who ended up living following removal of the tube.
It's not all about the glory days, but hold on to them when they happen.

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