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Meet Your Trustee: Anthony DeWitt

What’s a personal injury lawyer doing on the ARCF Board of Trustees? Anthony DeWitt is not just any attorney — he’s also a registered respiratory therapist. In the following interview, the partner at Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Goza, PC in Kansas City, MO, explains how he went from one profession to the other, and why he’s adamant about continuing his support of his first love —

How did you get involved in respiratory care and how long did you work as a therapist?

I started as an OJT therapist at Kirksville Osteopathic Hospital in Kirksville, MO, in 1978 after receiving training in the Army as a combat medic. I worked there for six months before going to the Creighton University School of Respiratory Therapy in 1980 in what was then called their Extensive Study Course. It allowed a therapist to sit for the RRT exam after an intensive summer semester.

I sat for my written boards in 1981, and got my RRT later in 1981 after passing my clinical simulations. I then worked at St. Mary’s Hospital, West Palm Beach, as a special procedures therapist before taking over the director’s role at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, IL. I worked continuously as a therapist until 1990 when I went to law school. I also worked per diem in St. Louis during law school.

In 1993 I graduated from St. Louis University with a law degree and went to work as an attorney. I have written a risk-management oriented column for therapists since 1990.

What do you believe the Foundation brings to the profession and why did you decide to take on the trustee role?

The Foundation provides opportunities to advance science and increase the visibility of therapists in the medical field. Not to sound like a Spiderman geek, but to whom much is given, much is expected. I have benefitted greatly from my training as a therapist, and in that regard, I feel compelled to give back. Providing input on Board decisions to the ARCF is simply one way for me to fulfill my obligation to the Missouri Bar to provide pro bono (free) legal services.

What are the top three things you, personally, would like to see the Foundation accomplish over the next few years and how do you think meeting these goals will benefit the profession of respiratory care?

I would like to see us double the amount of unrestricted cash on hand by seeking support from those who stand to gain from our work, including insurers, corporate entities, and even law firms. By obtaining additional funds we can provide additional opportunities for therapists throughout the U.S. and internationally.

What would you like rank and file RTs to know about their Foundation and why do you believe it is important for them to support it?

Every therapist who practices today stands on the shoulders of great therapists who have gone before them. They’ve read the research done by the therapists who went before them, they benefitted from therapists clawing out a scope of practice that includes protocols and advanced practice. They have the ability to intubate and participate as a full member of the ICU team because someone before them fought to get them that right. They have an obligation to those who will follow to make the way easier, and to assist them in reaching their goals. Donating to the ARCF is just one of many ways that a therapist can push the profession forward as we move through the 21st century.

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