RT Grad Turns Degree Into Business

respiratory therapist

“Never settle or do the bare minimum,” says Rachel Thomas, a 2002 Concorde-Memphis Respiratory Therapist alumna. “Shine in whatever career you choose!”

Thomas has certainly taken her own advice. Today, she owns and operates RT Medical, LLC out of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

According to her website, RT Medical is a home-care organization dedicated to providing comprehensive care to patients recovering from operations or combating various illnesses.

“We currently manage 100 patients on invasive ventilator support in their homes,” Thomas said. “We set up and educate many oxygen patients, tracheostomy patients and clinical respiratory patients for home care. Our patients range from neonatal to geriatric.”

She and her team are convinced that patients are happier and progress faster when they can recover in the comfort and familiar surroundings of their home. They work directly with physicians and/or discharge planners to ensure smooth transitions from hospital care to home care.

After spending a few years as a respiratory therapist at Delta Medical Center of Memphis and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., she moved to Mt. Juliet in Nov. 2003 and started RT Medical in 2005 with her husband, Bruce, two kids, Presley and Rhett, and their three dogs.

“I never thought I wanted to own a business,” Thomas said. “I just loved taking care of home ventilator patients. Next thing I knew, I had 20 employees and referrals galore!”

Being a business owner doesn’t come without its challenges, however. Thomas says constant insurance changes and reimbursement cuts keep her and her team on their toes.

From dream to reality

Thomas joined the Concorde family at the recommendation of her mother, a former instructor at Concorde.

“I was a flight attendant prior to going to Respiratory Therapy school,” she said. “My mom encouraged me to try it. I am so glad I took her advice!

“My goal was always to be my own boss. Concorde made me want to work hard to get here. I encourage current students to make the most of their program and never to settle for just being a ‘medicine pusher.’ Go above and beyond that to be noticed!”

Are you interested in being a Respiratory Therapist?

Ranked #21 in Best Health Care Jobs by U.S. News and World Report, employment of Respiratory Therapists is projected to grow 12 percent through 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia.

A Respiratory therapist is trained in a wide scope of specific skills in care of critically ill patients from premature neonates to adult trauma, and medical illnesses that affect the heart and lungs.

“Next to nursing,” according to Bob Goodrow, Program Director of Respiratory Therapy at Concorde-San Diego, “Respiratory Therapists are the largest body of licensed health care specialists who deal in direct patient care.”

respiratory therapist

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