Kim is flying high when she saves young lives with her hospital flight team

When it comes to caring for precious cargo, Kim Burgess, RRT, RRT-NPS, says she’s landed her dream job.

Kim is a Senior Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) on the flight team at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. She loved the adrenaline and pace of her first job in the trauma and burn unit, but she felt her ultimate calling was to work with patients in the air. Now she treats infants and children while in transport to hospital care.

“I see up close how fragile life is and how every second counts with little ones who cannot breathe,” Kim says. “It’s very rewarding to help in these life-threatening situations, and to reassure families their children are in highly capable hands.”

Because of that, she says, “I know what we truly mean to those patients and their families.”

Kim chose to pursue a career in health care after losing her friend to a heart attack in high school. Driven to save young lives, she was drawn to the versatility of respiratory therapy and the critical role it plays in many different aspects of patient care.

To qualify for the flight team, Kim needed specialization and experience in critical care and pediatrics. While working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Le Bonheur, she earned her credentials as a Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist in respiratory therapy (RRT-NPS) from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

“NBRC credentials set us apart from other providers. My specialty credential has helped broaden horizons in my career that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. It proves I have higher level of competency and perform at the highest level of care.”

— Kim Burgess, RRT, RRT-NPS

For Kim, excellence in respiratory care extends beyond patient care. She also works to inspire the next generation to enter the field, so they too can make a lifesaving difference every day. Through the hospital’s partnerships with local schools, she educates visiting teens about her role in respiratory care and on the flight team. She especially hopes to inspire kids who don’t believe they have many career options, eager to show them how to soar toward a dream they didn’t realize they could have.

“If we explain and educate on the complexities of the field and what a difference we make in people’s lives, that’s a powerful way to reach kids,” she says. “My goal is to get them excited about becoming a valuable member of a health care team.”