This week, we’re highlighting one of our ECMO Coordinators, Ruggero Bruzzone. He details his journey to work in ECMO, what a typical day looks like, and the benefits of this career field.
How long have you been an ECMO Coordinator, and which team are you currently on?
I’ll have been an ECMO Coordinator for five months in January. I was an ECMO Specialist for five years before accepting the ECMO Coordinator position with SpecialtyCare. I’m currently working in Jacksonville, FL.
What led you to become interested in ECMO, and can you describe the path you took to become a Coordinator?
At my previous facility, I began my career as a Pediatric/Neonatal Respiratory Therapist. A year into my new role, I was given the opportunity to work alongside ECMO Specialists, each with a wealth of knowledge in not only their fields but all the fields involved in the patient’s care. It was evident how much respect they had for their work, and it was even more apparent with all the positive patient stories centered around the care they were able to provide.
This led me to go through the facilities ECMO Specialist training course and take a full-time ECMO Specialist position. After being a specialist for a few years, I could begin working on more aspects outside direct bedside care. Understanding all the cogs that have to be in motion to maintain an ECMO program and give individuals the capacity to continue to provide excellent bedside care and monitoring was fascinating. I began to take on a supervisor role for a few years at my previous facility, which led me to take a Coordinator position with SpecialtyCare.
Ruggero and Ryan Stahl with University of Florida Health, headed on ECMO transport via fixed wing with ShandsCair
What are the benefits of a career in ECMO?
ECMO, similar to all healthcare fields, continues to grow every day. However, it seems that ECMO has recently begun to grow at an accelerated rate that many didn’t expect. SpecialtyCare has already made its mark in the field and is committed to growing alongside it. A career in ECMO with SpecialtyCare will open numerous doors for individuals to advance their careers and allow them to continue developing their knowledge.
An ECMO Specialist will generally begin their career as a Respiratory Therapist or a Registered Nurse prior to becoming an ECMO Specialist. Outside of allowing additional upward career growth that may have not been previously available, a career in ECMO allows an individual to continue to use the knowledge they’ve obtained in their previous role in conjunction to their new role as an ECMO Specialist.
What is a day in the life of an ECMO Coordinator like?
A day in the life of an ECMO Coordinator can vary drastically from a slow day filled with meetings and ordering supplies to a more hectic day where you find yourself moving nonstop. On a typical day, I like to come in prior to my night shift staff leaving to be able to have some face-to-face communication and discuss what’s going on. I’ll then go through my emails, which can be a job on its own with the number of daily emails received, which is expected when starting a new program. I’ll then participate in the facility’s bedside multidisciplinary rounds with my staff and assist when I can with bedside care/monitoring that may be going on throughout the day, such as working with physical therapy.
There are many aspects in the role of ECMO Coordinator that you can’t always plan for. Calls throughout the day and night will come up for numerous reasons, such as emergent ECMO initiation, troubleshooting, and/or patient referrals from all over. There’s no natural way to plan for every aspect of the job, but being prepared for any situation will always give you the chance to succeed.
Ruggero and Mike McGuire, headed on ECMO transport via ground transportation with ShandsCair
What communication advice would you give when it comes to the team dynamic?
Communication is essential in building a strong, positive, and effective team in any field, and ECMO is no exception. I’m incredibly fortunate to be part of a team that fully understands the importance of communication. My advice on communication is to ensure that your team is fully confident to be able to approach any team member, including myself, with any questions or concerns. It’s also essential to listen, understand, and learn from others. Regardless of title or experience, every member of our team has input or feedback that can help any or all of us grow in multiple capacities.
What was a surprise to you about the career when you first started?
Although it is growing somewhat quickly, the ECMO community is still relatively small. It may not seem like it when starting a career in ECMO, but we’re all connected. The individuals involved with ECMO all take pride in helping those developing in the field or assisting others with any complications or issues. It’s surprising how many of these ECMO ‘Pioneers’ you’ll be connected with because it becomes a norm to discuss the field with them.