BSA Leadership Series – an interview with Alan Sissel

Celebrating 20 years with BSA Health System, Director of Respiratory Therapy and Medical Physiology Alan Sissel, RRT-NPS shares his story with us as part of our BSA Leadership Series.

I started working in grocery retail when I was 15 years old, working after school and on weekends. I did everything from being a cashier and bagging groceries to frozen food management and night stocking. There were a lot of things I had done and experienced in the grocery retail industry. At the age of 24, with a young family of my own, I realized it was time to go back to school.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, however. A friend from church, who was a respiratory therapist, told me everything about what respiratory therapists do and the field. I had an interest for it and kept it in mind as I headed back to school. I got my prerequisites and decided to apply for the respiratory therapy program.

Being able to complete the program and get a job at a hospital right before graduation made me proud that I had accomplished the goals that I had set for myself. When you see your patients who are sick, improve, get better and go home, that is the most satisfying feeling for me. 

After getting experience in the hospital, I had the opportunity to participate on a neonatal transport team before starting to work at BSA in 1996. The experience was invaluable to me and helped me with my clinical and critical thinking skills. I took an opening for a supervisor position to start planning the opening of a new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at BSA. From my experience with the neonatal transport team, I thought, “I can do this.” It helped me with my skills and confidence to be able to teach people who did not have that experience.

Sometimes we would spend 18 to 20 hour days training staff.  It was gratifying to see them learn and grow in their competencies and confidence to care for our smallest patients. Parents that would normally choose BSA didn’t have to transfer their babies if there was a need. That was a big accomplishment for our nurses, physicians and our respiratory therapy department.

I continued to work in a supervisory role for the respiratory therapy department until 2006. The director of respiratory therapy position came open and I decided to apply for the position since I had developed a good clinical and management skill set in my supervisor role. 

Today, I oversee the respiratory department, two sleep centers, the medical physiology department (echocardiogram, EKGs, EEGs, neurologic tests) and the vascular department which is a total of 120 employees. I’m responsible for the budgets for those five departments and have managers who help tremendously with the day-to-day operations.

I have been in my director role for 10 years and even though there are daily challenges, this position has been very rewarding and I have developed great working relationships over the years. I try to lead by example. Our number one priority is taking care of our patients and making BSA a great place for patients, but I also have a passion to make BSA a great place to work. I strive to have happy employees on a daily basis. One way I try to accomplish this is by spending 25 percent of my day making rounds throughout the hospital to touch all of the different departments I lead. I talk to the staff to see how their day is going and to thank them for their efforts and acknowledge what they do to make a difference in our patients’ lives each and every day. I try to stay connected with frontline employees and if there is a need, I work to see that need is met.

I have worked at other hospitals in Amarillo in the past and BSA definitely stands apart from the other facilities, mainly because of our mission to provide quality care in a Christian environment. I have often heard and continue to hear from visitors and vendors that come to BSA, how we’re different than other hospitals, because of the welcoming, friendly culture that our employees exhibit on a daily basis. I feel honored to be a part of the BSA team every day.

To me, the BSA Way means that whether you are a patient, visitor or fellow employee, we treat everyone with respect and kindness and go out of our way to make sure their needs are met. BSA is recognized as a great hospital because of our friendly culture and our quality awards we have received for patient care. BSA is a great place to work and it has been very satisfying to me to have a career as a respiratory therapist and now as a director and leader in the hospital.

Interested in working at BSA? To learn more about current opportunities and to apply online, please click here