Roel O'Campo is a respiratory care practitioner at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson. He has been a practitioner for 11 years.
What does your job entail?
As a respiratory care practitioner, we provide care for patients with heart and lung problems. We often treat people who have asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis and sleep apnea, and also those experiencing a heart attack or suffering a stroke. We place breathing tubes in airways and manage ventilation, administer bronchodilators, record each patient’s progress and consult with physicians and surgeons on continuing care.
What kind of schooling or training did you go through?
Our licensing requirements mandate, at a minimum, an associate’s degree, though many in the field hold a bachelor’s degree. Anticipate course work in anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, pharmacology and mathematics. These programs also offer training on performing diagnostic tests and patient assessment.
Growing up in a medical family, I saw the joy that my relatives experienced in truly making a difference in their patients’ lives. Ultimately, this career is about helping people and improving the lives of all of our patients.
What do you like best about your job?
Honestly, it’s the anticipation of not knowing what the day will bring that makes my job so great. Working in a hospital is not a day-to-day routine. I like that. An emergency could happen at any given moment, and we always need to be ready for that. It is also helpful to have a great team to work with here at GBMC. There is amazing cohesion between doctors, nurses and RCPs, all of us working together for the betterment of our patients.
The care that respiratory care practitioners provide deals with one of the most basic and important life activities — breathing. Helping people through their breathing struggles is stressful under normal conditions, and for those practitioners who work in hospitals, the stress is more constant. Administering CPR and assisting with treatment in emergency rooms is extremely high pressure. Because hospitals need RCP staff at all times, most respiratory practitioners work rotating schedules of evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. We spend much of our day standing and walking. Emergency situations can be stressful. In addition, like many other jobs in healthcare, RCP workers have exposure to infectious diseases, although we minimize risks by following proper safety procedures. At the end of the day, though, all of these challenges are well worth it because we are making a difference in our patients’ lives.