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The Role of a Respiratory Therapy Manager

The Role of a Respiratory Therapy Manager

Oct. 26th, 2021

Photo, left to right: Rebecca O'Connor and Nychole Rose

Respiratory therapists help patients with respiratory and cardiopulmonary functioning. At Saber Healthcare, our respiratory therapists work each day with our residents to help them meet their goals when it comes to respiratory care.

To learn more about respiratory therapy, we interviewed Rebecca O’Connor, Director of Respiratory at Waterside Health and Rehab, and Nychole Rose, Director of Respiratory at Centerburg Respiratory.

O’Connor and Rose shared their backgrounds, as well as how they work alongside their teams to provide our residents with the care that they need.

“I’m really fortunate that I stepped into this role. I have been blessed with a team that is very caring and strong,” O’Connor said. “I appreciate my staff. They truly make me what I am.”

“I do whatever I can to help my team achieve their goals. They know that they can come to me, and we can accomplish our goals as a team,” Rose shared.

How Did You Get to Where You Are Today?

O’Connor shared a touching story about how she decided to become a respiratory therapist.

“I received a scholarship to Florida State to get my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Once my dad had a heart attack and ended up on a ventilator, I realized I loved the role of the respiratory therapists,” O’Connor said. “I gave up my scholarship and decided to go to respiratory school.”

O’Connor has been working as a respiratory therapist since 1998. Over the years, she has gained experience working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), hospice, and now long term care.

Rose discussed that she began her adult life as a cosmetologist. However, she had an interest in the medical field and wanted to work with people.

“I met a respiratory therapist in my anatomy class and I thought it sounded interesting,” Rose said. She looked into respiratory therapy and decided to shadow at therapist at a hospital in Columbus. “I fell in love with the field.”

How Do You Lead Your Team?

Rose shared with us how she leads her team and what a typical day will look like. She mentioned that when she goes into work in the morning, her first goal is to touch base with each of the respiratory therapists on the floor and check if they need anything from her.

“Our main focus is to take care of and help each resident so that they can get back to the community,” Rose said.

O’Connor discussed how she not only leads her team, but how she manages to work alongside them.

“I try to lead by example,” O’Connor explained. “I don’t expect my staff to do anything I’m not doing. If they are tired, I should be too. If they’re working over time, I should be too.”

O’Connor added that she tries to remain on the floor and be an active part of what’s going on with the residents. She listens to her staff, and if something is bothering them, she makes sure to work on the issue at hand.

What is a Necessary Character Trait for Respiratory Therapists to Have?

O’Connor shared that being able to truly listen to your patients is a critical character trait for anyone in the healthcare field.

“Being passionate across the board is the biggest thing people need to embrace,” O’Connor said. “We build relationships with these people. They become like family.”

O’Connor added that when you are faced with so many patients, it can be easy to get unemotional or impersonal. However, she believes that’s what they should try to refrain from doing as healthcare workers.  

Rose told us that compassion and empathy are the most important character traits for respiratory therapists.

“We can listen and reassure the residents of what they’re doing to keep them motivated to continue the rehab process,” Rose said. “We encourage our respiratory therapists to take the time to do that with each person.”

What is Your Favorite Part about Your Job?

We asked Rose and O’Connor to tell us their favorite parts about their job and what they do each day.

“My favorite part is the fact that I can interact with the residents. We want to make it worthwhile and smile, play games, and help them succeed at progressing to their goals of returning to the community,” Rose shared.

“I like a challenge and I like seeing people go home,” O’Connor said. She explained one scenario when a patient was admitted from the hospital with COVID-19. They were able to work with her in respiratory therapy and she went home without a trach, when they originally thought that wouldn’t be possible.

What Challenges Does Your Team Face?

O’Connor and Rose discussed some of the challenges their teams have faced.

“Although COVID-19 was not positive, we came together as a team when it felt like everything was falling apart,” O’Connor said.

“Before the pandemic, one of the biggest challenges was getting the resident to buy into the rehab program to ween them off the vent. Since the pandemic, it’s been fighting depression because they weren’t seeing their families,” Rose explained.

Rose and O’Connor both discussed the staffing shortages they faced and working extra days, but they still gave the best care that they could.

Advice for Aspiring Respiratory Therapists

Rose and O’Connor shared some of their best advice for those who are thinking about becoming a respiratory therapist.

“They need to figure out what part of respiratory that they really love. There are many avenues from adult critical care to skilled nursing homes to pediatrics,” Rose said. “Figure out what setting you love and are compassionate about.”

Rose added that you should create a balance between work and home. She said to work hard when you’re at work, but when you’re not at work, take care of yourself.

“Be prepared. It’s hard work but it’s very rewarding,” O’Connor shared. “Being able to help people, make their lives better, and send them home – it’s very rewarding.”

O’Connor added that individuals who are looking into becoming a Respiratory Therapists have to be compassionate and willing to work hard.

Saber Healthcare Appreciates Our Directors of Respiratory

Thank you, O’Connor and Rose, and all the other Directors of Respiratory that lead our respiratory teams. You all leave a positive impact on residents and staff members you work with.

If you’re interested in joining one of Saber Healthcare’s respiratory teams, click here to see what jobs are available.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.