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RCSW Presidential Update

By RCSW President Jonathan Jahns

Jonathan Jahns, RCSW President
Your Respiratory Care Society of Washington (RCSW) has been very busy this past year, and we are poised to continue this work going forward.  I would like to highlight some of the key areas where we have been putting a lot of effort, and look to your support and involvement.
Here in Washington, we are focusing on a couple of key areas of work that will impact our licensure verbiage as well as our scope of practice.  More and more hospital RT departments in our state are involved with ECLS/ECMO (UW, Harborview, Mary Bridge, and Seattle Children’s, Sacred Heart in Spokane etc.…).  We are working to update the specific language in our licensure to support this work, and set-up our profession to advance and expand our scope of practice here in Washington.  At some point, this will involve meeting with elected official in Olympia, and speaking in front of legislative committees in support of these changes in our licensure.  Please pay attention and get involved in RCSW-sponsored events in your areas to hear more about these activities, as well as visiting our state website, www.rcsw.org for updates related to this work.

Another area that we are focusing on here in our state is centered on establishing the RRT credential as a baseline for licensure in Washington State.  Many other state societies have moved in this direction, and as the respiratory care profession continues to advance on a national level, there has been a lot of discussion and support here in our state to align with other state societies on these efforts.  

On a national level, Washington has been busy supporting the efforts get congressional sponsorship for H.R. 2948, the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act.  With increased interest in expanding Medicare telehealth services as a way to help reduce hospital readmissions, H.R. 2948 would cover respiratory services and add respiratory therapists as qualified telehealth providers. The bill also includes incremental coverage of remote patient monitoring services for patients with certain chronic conditions, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  This important legislative initiative comes at a time when the Medicare program has added COPD to the list of conditions subject to hospital readmission penalties.  More importantly, respiratory therapy involvement in patient care increases patient safety and patient satisfaction, while reducing cost & waste associated with multiple hospital visits.

Respiratory therapists are the only allied health professionals educated, trained and competency tested in all aspects of pulmonary medicine and disease management. For those with chronic lung disease, a key goal to reducing costly emergency department visits and/or hospital admissions/readmissions is to reduce or eliminate acute exacerbations by educating Medicare beneficiaries how to recognize the triggers and symptoms of their disease.  The provisions of H.R. 2948 would go a long way to improving patient outcomes in our state as well as nationally via respiratory telehealth services when furnished by respiratory therapists. 

Washington State now has two Bachelor of Applied Science in RT Programs; Seattle Central College and Highline College, with Spokane and Tacoma RT programs in line to do the same.   Looking back to 2010-2011, it was a goal of the RCSW to develop and implement a BAS-RT program.  It is now a reality, and time to continue to advance our Profession.  

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)
, our national and International professional association is in pursuit of advancing our profession to include Advanced Practitioner Respiratory Therapists.  Though there is a lot to do as we move forward on this, the importance of having 2 BAS-RT programs, and continuing to establish these programs in state is essential to our profession.

Our Annual Pacific Northwest Regional Respiratory Care Conference and Scientific Assembly continues to be one of the largest state RT meetings in our country.  Each year we continually exceed the number of attendees from the previous year, and always boast a robust speaker line-up with an adult section, a neonatal/peds section and a diagnostics section.  Please mark your calendars now for April 9th through April 11th, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hotel in SeaTac, WA.  We are looking forward to another great conference---see you there.

Again, please refer to our state website. www.rcsw.org to look for other educational opportunities in the chapter in which you reside.  I know many of you are aware of your state chapter for the RCSW, but here is a quick map for reference.
Another are under education that also touches on membership, professionalism & advocacy are the newer committees that are a part of the RCSW.  These include, the Student Engagement Committee (SEC), the RT Program Educator section, and the Management/Leader section.  Our strategy was to create a continuum that includes, and begins with the RT student and the programs that they are in, linking them to the trained RT professional at the point of care with our patients, in whatever capacity that may include.

Through the student engagement committee, students are now connected and represented in the activities and functions of their profession through-out our state, as well as on a national level.  We look forward to the evolution of this student-run committee as the foundation for involvement by our future professionals.

The RT educator committee is integral to not only educating our future professionals, but being involved in all aspects of training and education for all matters related to increasing our scope of practice.  As mentioned above, we move forward with changing our licensure language, our educators will be actively involved aligning education and training to support this work here in our State.  

The Manager/Leader section is so essential to our profession, as this group includes the RT’s who are hiring, training, mentoring and collaborating with all of us on a daily basis in our work.  More importantly, this section has created a robust network amongst many different departments in our state for sharing information, best practices, policies & procedures etc.…, so assure we are all working to improve the care we provide for our patients every day.

Everything we do and achieve as a state society is a result of your membership to the AARC and the RCSW.  Thank you for your involvement as we look to continue to grow the number of AARC/RCSW members in Washington State.  Just to clarify, when you are a member of the AARC, you are automatically a member of the RCSW.
How does being a member help you?
1. Access to reduced cost and free educational opportunities.
2. Professional legitimacy and clout with legislators both in-State and nationally as we advocate for advancing our profession.
3. Networking with other professionals
4. Financial support to our state society for educational opportunities, scholarships, communication and information sharing on our website
5. Global network of RT’s growing every day…

Because of our growing membership, the RCSW awarded over $7,000 this year in Scholarships to various students enrolled in different educational programs.  This includes members finishing 2 year degrees, 4 year degrees, as well as master and doctoral level degrees.

In addition, our state sponsors 1 to 2 students annually to attend the House of Delegate meeting that is a part of the annual AARC International congress.  We are very proud of this as Washington is one of the first, and few states to be able to do this.  Without your involvement as members in our profession, we would not have been able to achieve this.  Thank you, and we look forward to being able to expand on the opportunity to provide support for our members, and their continuous learning journeys.

Reach out to any of the RCSW board members to talk about the many other reasons for being a member.  

Going forward this year, please pay attention to your emails, mailings and our website to keep your fingers on the pulse of RT activities.  Specifically, there will be a lot of information coming out regarding the following:
1. RCSW elections.  We have open positions for many of our elected positions; if interested in getting involved, please refer to our website for more information, and reach out to the contacts listed there.
2. We will be updating our RCSW Bylaws this year for submittal to the AARC, and we will be emailing out a lot of information to all of you, our state members, for input and approval.
3. As we get closer to working with our legislators in Olympia to work on, and update our licensure language, we will be looking for input, support and presence from all of you to see this work through.
4. Support/advocacy on national legislative work to allow the RT profession to go beyond the hospital setting to care for our chronically ill cardio-pulmonary patients.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read through the RCSW Presidential update.  More so, I want to thank each and every one of you for everything you do every day as a Respiratory Therapist.  We have come a long way, and I look forward to the many challenges and successes as we continue to grow.

President, RCSW