Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Work, or the lack of it...

I have written a bit about what I have done for a living but today I thought I would write a bit more in detail. I have been a respiratory therapist for 25 years. Healthcare has always been a good industry to be in for job security. Plus it seems to be the type of industry that draws a certain type of people to work hands on. If you ask any healthcare worker, nurse, doctor, therapist, technician, etc why they got into healthcare they will tell you something like "to help people". And that is exactly it!

When I was growing up I wanted to be a scientist. I had a microscope, and a chemistry set when I was probably younger than I should have been. I loved them! I also had a rock testing kit. You had to perform different tests on a rock and then stick pegs in specific holes to indicate an answer to the question about the qualities of the rock. Inside was a stack of cards with holes punched in them and when you were all done with your tests you would pull out a tray and a card or cards would drop down and tell you what kind of rock it was. I really loved that. I think it was that scientific mind that drew me into medicine.

Respiratory Therapy was sort of a fluke as a choice though as I had planned on being a doctor. I had entered a science fair in high school and part of my experiment involved radiation and my teacher would take me to LSU hospital in Shreveport, LA where he had friends in the radiation lab. He was a pre-med student and was substitute teaching at my high school while waiting for a place in med school to open up. My experiment involved exposing fruit fly larvae to different levels of radiation and then when they hatched to inspect the flies for any mutations. It was actually quite a good experiment and got me to the International Science Fair in California that year. So I went to LSU-Shreveport with a specific goal of pre-med. Then I got married, had kids and of course dropped out of school. When I went back to school when my son, Chris, was about 2 I got interested in the Respiratory Therapy certification program offered at the local community college.

And the rest, as they say, is history. I do really love being a respiratory therapist, and the education aspect of it is my favorite. Whether I am educating patients on how to take better care of them selves or other therapists or care givers on how to take care of the patient doesn't matter. I love it all. I've been in clinical management for about the last 10-15 years and was working for a large, national home care company, Rotech Healthcare, when I was laid off.

If any of you are familiar with Medicare's cuts in reimbursement for things like oxygen, nebulizer medications, CPAP etc. you will probably understand this. A home care company doesn't bill Medicare for the visits an RT makes to the patient like home health does for nursing visits. They only bill for the purchase or rental of equipment and supplies. Having RTs to visit your patients is a value added benefit for the referral source like the hospital, or doctor office, and the patient. The RT can spend time with the patient helping them understand what their medication or equipment does to help them and how to make best use of it all. Unfortunately with the recent changes in Medicare reimbursement for medications and the oxygen cap and competitive bidding challenges having the RTs became a burden of cost for the company. So now the patient has less access to care but Medicare "saves" money. In my book its a lose-lose situation.

That is why I have chosen now to start pushing the jewelery making business while I'm looking for a job. I feel I was given an opportunity to put some time into it.

But...... if any of you out there has a job for me, let me know! :)


Unknown said...

Heya Michele!
Keep up the blogging effort - you posess a wonderful writing style. But mostly I just can't wait to see more pics of your great artwork!

We're extremely pleased to have you working with us on the global eSMArts etsy team. Your insights and suggestions are invaluable so keep them coming...

BTW, careerwise, did you ever give thought to moving to Canada? We're still in dire need of all forms of health care professionals! -AnnaLee in Toronto

Michele Cook said...

Hey Anna Lee, thanks for your comment. I pretty much write from the heart. Now that I've gotten started on the blog its amazing how many ideas I have for it.

It was funny about you mentioning moving to Canada. I get Mother Earth News Magazine and they always have an ad for Canadian properties for really good prices. You never know what may come in the future.