by Gessilda Galang, RCP Student
The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) House of Delegates meetings were an eye-opening experience as I was given a platform to interact with reputable professionals in my field and learned about future prospects in my career. It was a special privilege for me in that I was not merely participating as a student delegate but I also represented my state at the conference.
Notably, the AARC House of Delegates and Board of Directors meetings are the largest and the most comprehensive meetings about respiratory care across the country. The meetings provide the forum through which professionals converge to network, share their knowledge and experiences, and learn from one another. The meeting took place in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 2 and 3, 2017. The House of Delegates is a group of respiratory therapists elected from every state including Puerto Rico. Typically, each state sends two delegates to represent the therapists in their home state to the AARC. It is similar to how the Senate or House of Representatives represent the government. Once at the meeting, the delegates debate and cast votes from their state on the measures brought to the House. The delegates then take information and those decisions back to their state boards and continue to implement measures to support the profession locally.
As a student aspiring to become a respiratory therapist, I was keen to learn about the policies, principles, and procedures that are pertinent to my field of work. The meeting was also instrumental in providing me with the opportunity to interact with professionals in my prospective career, which I found quite enlightening as it helped me to draw key lessons from their experiences, considering that some of them had worked in the field for decades.
The House of Delegates’ Student Mentorship Committee Co-Chairs, Ms. Julie Jackson and Ms. Amanda Albee, did an amazing job in putting all things together. They both encouraged the students to get involved and assured that the students were welcomed. They were dedicated in mentoring the students. The purpose of the committee is to promote the involvement of respiratory care students in the business and activities of the House.
I took part in the discussion forums at the meeting, and I learned much from the Board of Directors’ deliberations on various issues about respiratory therapy, especially with regards to the various resolutions that they made and the votes they took on contentious issues. Through these forums, I got a glimpse of the business side of the respiratory care profession, which goes a long way in influencing the activities in our clinical setting. Furthermore, the experience was inspirational and enriching in advancing my educational level as far as respiratory care is
The House meeting gave me the opportunity for expanding my network in the field. For instance, I interacted with AARC President, Dr. Brian Walsh and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Mr. Keith Siegel. Mr. Siegel specifically had a keen interest in my studies and encouraged me to develop a deep passion for the profession, claiming that it was what would give me an edge ahead of my competitors. Besides, he offered himself to be my mentor, and assured me that I could reach out to him personally in case I needed any help. I also met Mr. Daryl Rogers who also accepted to become my mentor. He advised me to invest in extensive reading of my field, as new knowledge was coming up every day due to research. Consequently, keeping abreast with it would give me a competitive edge in the field.
In addition to the HOD meeting, I felt the International Congress was special. It began with the opening ceremony where many renowned speakers shared their experience in the profession. I also felt privileged to be part of the ceremony where one of my state’s delegates, Joseph Goss, was inducted as a Fellow. This was an important moment for me since Joseph Goss is not just my professor, but also another of my mentors. This motivated me to contemplate advancing my educational career to his level or even beyond in a bid to achieve mastery in this field.
I was pleased to attend many lectures and forums aimed to boost my knowledge as a student. I met amazing people such as Dr. Dean Hess, Mr. Garry Kauffman and Dr. Robert Kacmarek. The passion they have in this profession was one of the reasons I challenge myself to embrace what I have now as a student and to become a better therapist.
Finally, after many lectures, I got to see the exhibit hall. I wished I had more time to explore the entire place. The exhibit hall was seriously out of this world. The place was full of new gadgets and equipment that I got to see, touch and play. It was such a great learning experience and I really could not have planned this to be at a better time.
There’s so much more to mention, including the breakfast symposia, networking while having lunch and the extraordinary dinner I got to enjoy. Plus, the never ending welcome parties every single night.
In conclusion, the AARC House of Delegates Meeting and International Congress were definitely an eye-opener, particularly for students when it came to learning about the various issues, policies, procedures, and practices of our field. This is a conference that I would recommend for all students, considering that it has broadened the scope of my knowledge and my network in the field. I believe these are the key ingredients that students need to boost their
prospects in the field. It was an incredible experience, but this was just the beginning!
This wonderful experience left me with an amazing feeling and the utmost respect for all in our field. It also left me with this desire to do more as a student both academically and clinically. I was truly inspired by everyone that I came in contact with during this event. It truly was one of the most amazing experiences that I have had professionally.
Thank you all.