By Mallorie Mullendore | University of California Davis Health
Although I only moved into the pulmonary rehabilitation specialty a year ago, I knew immediately that I’d found my niche as a respiratory therapist. My interest in the field grew out of personal circumstance: the grandfather I adored was struggling with COPD. He wasn’t receiving the level of care necessary, and his condition was worsening instead of getting better. Determined to make a difference, I took matters into my own hands with management of his disease. Hearing and seeing first-hand how his quality of life improved was all the incentive I needed to take my RT expertise in a different direction. While ever grateful for the valuable lessons in patient care and advocacy that I learned during the prior six years, I can honestly say that transitioning into pulmonary rehab was the best career move I could ever have made.
The decision may have been easy but, of course, there’s still a learning curve. For just that very reason, AACVPR established its Emerging Professionals Program, which showers newcomers to the profession with an abundance of resources and support. I’m eligible for those perks because I'm a practicing health care worker with fewer than two years under my belt in cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation. However, the designation also applies to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in the specialty and have not previously worked in a cardiac or pulmonary rehab setting for longer than two years. If you quality, the benefits are many, ranging from mentorship to access to job listings and scholarships to reduced membership fees.
Another advantage to being an Emerging Professional at AACVPR is discounted admission to the Annual Meeting. My supervisor at University of California Davis Health, Aimee Kizziar, MHAL, BA, RRT-NPS, RCP, CES, encouraged me to register as the association welcomed members to West Palm Beach, Florida, last month. It was just serendipity that, for the first time – and for my first time – the event was carving out activities specifically for members of the Emerging Professionals group – myself included! By attending those tailored programs, as well as the broader education offerings, my goal was to grow as a clinician in pulmonary rehab, advance my expertise and network with other professionals.
I admit I was a bit nervous and unsure of what to expect from the Emerging Professionals workshop at the conference, but my jitters were soon replaced with pleasant surprise at the wide range of peers in attendance. I had no idea the complex range of career backgrounds and education wearing this label, including registered nurses, exercise physiologists and more. I had a great time networking, soaking up new knowledge on other backgrounds and the different approaches to their programs.
One of my main take-aways from workshop was the importance of teamwork. More specifically, understanding that within a team we all have our own strength and weakness and that it’s important to highlight those traits. I realized through the teachings at the Emerging Professionals workshop that teamwork is something you must continue to strive towards and that you must always be open to new ideas. The workshop mediators also emphasized the importance of having a mentor within your field. I’m so thankful for all of the guidance bestowed by my own mentor – my supervisor Aimee – whom I first met as a respiratory therapy student during my clinical training in pulmonary rehab. She displayed a passion for her job and patients, and she committed to constant improvement of herself and those around her. Six years later, that passion and determination is still there. I’m confident that having a mentor of her caliber will help advance my career, improve my insight into pulmonary rehab and grow my strengths.
I couldn’t be more thrilled with my decision to join the pulmonary rehab profession, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to attend the AACVPR Annual Meeting. As an emerging professional I hope to continue to grow my career and be the best clinician and advocate for my patients. I’m already looking forward to the 2023 event and plan to maintain and build on all the connections that I made this year.
Mallorie Mullendore, BS, RRT, RCP, is coordinator of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at University of California Davis Health.