Kunjumon Mathai, BS, RRT, NPS, ACCS
Staff Therapist, Newark Beth Israel
AARC member since 2007
What made you decide to pursue a career in Respiratory Therapy and how long have you been working in the field?
I chose to become a respiratory therapist because I was impressed with the role of a respiratory care professional in the hospital settings. I enjoy learning about how the body works, what happens in disease, and how to restore normal function. Respiratory therapy is a career for the kind of person who wants to do meaningful work – the kind of person who wants to help people get well and stay well. I am that kind of a person.
What do you believe is the most rewarding part of being a Respiratory Therapist?
I enjoy seeing a patient who was under my care in the Intensive Care Unit, now being discharged and knowing that you played a part in the patient’s ability to go home. It is simply a rewarding feeling when what you did, or said, made someone feel better.
What was your favorite unit to work in at the hospital and why?
I like the excitement of assisting patients in critical care situations. I like to manage patients receiving mechanical ventilation and determine the appropriateness of therapeutic intervention. Being an active member of the ICU team help me stay abreast of innovations and issues in the field.
Do you have any words of advice for current or future students interested in becoming a Respiratory Therapist?
For current therapists: Breathe life into your career. Be an active and devoted therapist not a passive one. For the future therapists: Turn your compassion into a career. In today’s market, people are looking for advanced practice clinicians. Be the elite in the field, at least have a bachelor’s.
If you could change anything about the field of respiratory care, what would it be and why?
I would scrape off CRT and Associate degree programs from the respiratory field as soon as possible. We must remember that respiratory care is no longer just about the lungs and pulmonary disease. It is about the whole body. We must continue to develop university-level programs for the future needs of respiratory care.
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