We said farewell to 2016 and welcomed 2017.  After few days of celebration we returned to our regular schedule.  Having a new year’s resolution is common and well established for many individuals.  Creating a new year resolution is not a new concept, and can be linked back to 4000 years ago, in the ancient Babylon (1).  We can all recall the elements of an effective goal setting/plan. SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. We have been exposed to effective planning throughout our academic and clinical training.  However, I would like to remind you of an important step that will benefit both us and our patients.  Planning for possible and upcoming obstacles will be the focus of this post.  During my undergraduate studies, Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology, students were encouraged to explore possible obstacles that may hinder the performance and recovery of their patients.  Let’s look at one scenario.
 The client  works in an administrative setting where the stress of producing end of month reports elevates his or her stress level.  This anxiety may lead to an increased urge or temptation to variety of thoughts, actions, feelings and behaviours.  Our client may end up working longer hours in the final days of the month, and resort to take-out and unhealthy eating habits.  Also, in order to meet his/her deadlines, he/she skips the dedicated exercise time.  If our patient is trying to quit smoking or recently has stopped smoking, stress may trigger an automatic impulse to reach for a cigarette.  Also, if others in the office react and behave in the same unhealthy manner when faced with stress, there will be an added external confirmation and enabling.  Now, if we sit down with the client and identify this monthly obstacle or challenge, we can better plan for it.  


Meals:  Packing healthy snacks and lunch/dinner so it is readily available.  Benefits include saving money, one less thing to possibly to worry about, and providing the body with a well balanced energy and nutrients.

Exercise: Exercise helps to lower stress and improve mood, which allows individuals to remain calm and better focus on task on hand (2).  Consider taking 30-minutes walk breaks, without the distraction of listening to the news, reading/replying to emails, talking on the phone, or watching a TV show/Netflix.

Smoking Cessation: By preventing or managing stress triggers when overwhelmed, individuals can better handle their cravings. Avoid accompanying colleagues who are going outside to smoke. (For other list of available resources check out: http://www.smoke-free.ca/pdf_1/smoking_guide_en.pdf )


 When people become stressed, the fight or flight conditioning kicks in, their focus becomes narrowed, and they are more inclined to repeat what they have trained themselves to do.  We can adopt the lessons from this case study and apply it to our lives. Take the time to analyse and identify the obstacles in our plans.  Write them down.  It may feel weird or silly to do this exercise but you will thank yourself in the long run.   Create a list. (If X happens, then I can do   A, B or C). Keep it simple.  Break down each step into smaller parts.  Keep track of your progress.  Celebrate every small achievement in your path.  Keep at it!


Farzad ‘Raffi’ Refahi        

1. Bennett, Howard. Why do we make new year’s resolutions? Washington Post (online). Posted:  December 31, 2015

2. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Mayo-Clinic (Online). Posted: April 16, 2015

Lifelong Learning & Continuing Education  


As it is the case for us Repertory Therapist, as is the case for a large portion  of professions, Continuing Education (CE) is required and mandatory. Regulatory bodies, such as our The Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT), use CE to have us certified and registered members, be equipped with the latest skills and know-hows of our field and update us with on new and / or reformed practice guidelines.

In my three years of being a RT, I have already taken part in various CE programs, and so I believe it is time for some humble reflection on this matter.

I truly believe in the intention and goal of such CE structures. It is constructive. However, it does hold some specific limitations.  My main concern about the CE system is that it takes a one size-fits-all approach. Take for instance, an RRT with a focus in neonatal ICU can register for an online courses which will help review the knowledge side but would lack the ‘hands on’ evaluations, as well the in-person teaching or feedback (i.e. proficiency) which I find to be essential for our stream of healthcare profession.  During my time at The Michener Institute, as I am sure it has / was the case in your educational institution, one quickly realizes that while the theory becomes palpable when it is later combined with the practical, hands-on training, and the feedback from teachers to better adjust to strengths and weaknesses that each and every RT student confronts.

Another limitation of the current system is lack of universal standard. This passive approach has allowed some courses, e-module and conference materials to be out of date, and lack sufficient and quality material.

Furthermore the cost-benefit of online versus in-person training has to also be taken into consideration. The online courses and modules to be more cost and time efficient, not to mention conveniently accessible, but it lacks the interprofessional opportunity and technical aspects that is incorporated in the in-person workshops and conferences. However, despite this definitive bright side to the in-person training, one cannot ignore its time and financial burden.  One needs to pay higher fees for conferences/workshops than online courses, coupled with the burden of having to request time off work which means wage loss.  As I had to maintain a part-time job along with my full-time RT job, for most of my career in this profession, I really appreciated the flexibility of online courses, as it allowed me to maintain a better work-life balance.  However I really value the direct and immediate feedback and interaction with the instructions during the workshops and conferences. Recent research stresses the importance of associations taking into account the preferences of its members for CE courses (i.e., online versus in-person). Researchers have studied medical CE courses and have suggested a transition to Professional Development portfolio that encourages clinicians to identify goals and to take relevant courses in selected pathways.[1]   An example of such portfolio approach can be found with the existing structure of The College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario (CRTO).

There are numerous frameworks, theoretical approaches to Continuing Education and Professional Development Portfolios which are either implemented or being considered and which deserve comparison and further analysis.  If you are interested to learn more about this topic I recommend looking at Continuing Education in the Health Professions, by Gail Warden and colleagues, published in 2010 through The National Academies Press.  You can access this document online by clicking on the following link:  https://www.nap.edu/catalog/12704/redesigning-continuing-education-in-the-health-professions .

As you may know, there has been some recent changes to CRTO’s Professional Development and QA process.  I strongly recommend that you check out their website for additional information.


In Ontario and for CRTO:

“The CRTO does not require any number of annual CE credits. As an RT in Ontario, the CRTO QA Program requires you to maintain your PORTfolio on an ongoing basis, and complete any other assessment when requested. More information on the CRTO QA Program can be found on the CRTO website under QA Practice. Changes are currently being made to the existing QA program, so please stay tuned. ”


For Alberta and College and Association of Respiratory Therapists of Alberta:

” Please refer to the continuing competency package in the secure members section of www.carta.ca ”


For Saskatchewan College of Respiratory Therapists:

“Visit  www.SCRT.ca  -> Resources -> SCRT Continuing Education Program
1. A minimum of 1500 practice hours over a 4 year period.
2. A minimum of 48 continuing education credits (CECs) over a 2 year audit period. http://scrt.in1touch.org/uploaded/web/1CONTINUING%20EDUCATION%20PROGRAM.pdf

For Manitoba Association of Registered Respiratory Therapists Inc. :

” http://marrt.org/site/cc?nav=04  –> click on the provided link on the page for the PDF file. ”


For  l’Ordre professionnel des inhalothérapeutes du Québec :

” You can find all the information with the following links :

Please note that everything is in French. ”


Visit the general website for the following organizing bodies:  New Brunswick Association of Respiratory Therapists Inc.  ,  Newfoundland and Labrador College of Respiratory Therapy ,  Nova Scotia College of Respiratory Therapists , and  New Brunswick Association of Respiratory Therapists Inc.  .


Special thanks to the following individuals for their help with this post:
Bryan Buell (CARTA),
Ardis K Monarchi (SCRT),
Carole Hamp (CRTO),
Lee Hurton (MARRT),
Catherine Larocque (OPIQ),  and
Katherine Nollet (CSRT).

By Farzad Refahi HBsc RRT CRE
Edited by Farhad Refahi HBA, MA Public Policy

Dec 09, 2016
Respiratory Therapy By Farzad

Resources and suggested reading:

  1. Continuing Education in the Health Professions. Warden, Gail et al. 2010. The National Academies Press. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/12704/redesigning-continuing-education-in-the-health-professionshttps://www.nap.edu/read/12704/chapter/2#13



COPD Day 2016

Today is #WorldCOPDday . #Educate , #Prevent ,  #Diagnose and #Manage.

“While 4% of Canadians aged 35 to 79 self-reported being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), direct measurements of lung function from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) indicate that 13% of Canadians had a lung function score indicative of COPD.” [1]


Check out Lung Association’s website for list of free resources:


Educate yourself about smoking cessation information with this free module by The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit :


 Help your patients quit smoking:



COPD Management Guidelines:

Canadian Thoracic Society http://www.respiratoryguidelines.ca/guideline/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease

GOLD http://goldcopd.org/global-strategy-diagnosis-management-prevention-copd-2016/





1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Canadians, 2009 to 2011. Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2012001/article/11709-eng.htm

Thank You.

  Respiratory Therapy Week is here, and I would like to take a quick moment to thank few individuals who have helped me in my growth and practice in this field.

  A quick thank you to my parents, Sherry and Mohsen, for believing in me and their ongoing support in my life.  They have given me values and guidelines that continue to drive me to be a  patient focused and knowledgeable clinician.

  I am lucky to have had many quality instructors and preceptors that taught  and motivated me in this journey:

  • Bernie Ho.  A registered technologist who taught me about PFTs while I was receiving my PFT clinical rotation at Women’s College.  He is genuinely a kind person, a caring clinician, a skillful technologist and an effective preceptor.  His years of experience, his drive to continue to learn, and his passion to teach students make him a great preceptor.  He has always been open and willing to answer my questions and concerns.  Thanks Bernie.
  • Paul Smith. An instructor at Michener Institute. He treats students as adults, doesn’t look down at them, and holds them accountable for their performance and growth. He has a positive attitude and great sense of humour.  In the field of respiratory therapy instructors/academics, he is a role model.   Thanks Paul.
  • Andrea W. Markham provided ongoing support during my CRE certification process.  She has years of experience as an educator, and is open and ready to help students/clinicians. Thanks Andrea.
  • Sunnybrook’s Sandra Said, Gary Ackerman and Rob Boudah. These preceptors stand out by having a positive and respectful attitude toward students, and having a willingness to teach their students.  They create a supportive environment to challenge and teach SRTs, new RRTs and even experienced RRTs. Thanks Sandra, Gary and Rob.

  I would like to also thank, my fellow RRTs,  Katherine Tran, Mieke Fraser, and Dilshad Moosa.  Katherine has been a very supportive friend.  She pushes me to grow by suggesting different continuing education events, articles and resources.  Dilshad Moosa has been a great resource for me as she is open and willing to share her thoughts and advice about RT networking and career pathways.  Thank you Mieke for your ongoing support and motivation.

  I would like to extend my thank you to Dr. A. Amaral (Sunnybrook), Dr. Y. Shukla (Sunnybrook and Toronto Lung Clinic), and Dr. A. Born (North York General Hospital and Universal Pulmonary Lab).  These individuals have a positive and respectful attitude toward students and new staff.  They have and continue to put aside time from their busy schedules to help me grow in diagnostics and acute care. Thanks.
As an RT I have worked with more nurses than respiratory therapists.  Thanks to all the supportive nurses who taught,helped and supported to become a better clinician and a more effective interprofessional team member.

Respiratory Therapy is a specialized field as there are different subcategories/groups.  The evolving nature of this field can make learning and understanding of the RT career pathways challenging at times. My involvement in social media began with a goal of helping student RTs and recent RTs in their growth.  I had watched educational Youtube videos of Thomas Pirano in class as part of our ventilation physiology lesson.  It was inspiring to watch a dedicated and motivated individual share his knowledge with the world.  I became motivated to be an active RT-blogger (around two years ago).  A big thank you to John Meloche, the CEO of Melotel Inc, who became a big supporter of my online presence.  He is always ready to answer my technical and social media questions.   Also, a thank you to Andrina Stan who educated me about social media and suggested ways that I could improve my blog.  A big thank you to CSRT and Katherine Nollet for their support and encouragement of my social media presence.

I encourage everyone to be respectful and supportive of new student/new RTs.   Invest in RTs who lack the knowledge and experience. By improving our clinicians, we can further empower our field.  Quality respiratory therapists will have a great impact in patient care and outcomes.

Happy Respiratory Therapy Week!

Farzad ‘Raffi’ Refahi


Blood Lab. Values

Happy Saturday everyone.
Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving long weekend in Canada. To everyone exposed to Hurricane Matthew, I hope you are safe.

I wanted to remind myself of a normal blood lab value, and my Google search lead me to this useful document from Fraser Health 2011 (Anita Dickson, LPN, PID) :
The mentioned document has three different categories of Chemistry , Hematology and Urine Tests.  For each test, the author has included Normal Findings, Indications, Test Explanation, Interfering Factors, and Test Results and Clinical Significance (i.e. Causes of increased/decreased levels).

(For EDUCATIONAL purposes. If you plan to use this resource for your clinical practice, I STRONGLY recommend double checking the accepted values with your facility guidelines.)

Resources for RT Week 2016

Today is Monday October 3rd, 2016.  A reminder that Respiratory Therapy Week is  20 days away (October 23 to October 29, 2016).  Respiratory therapists, individually and part of an interprofessional team, contribute in prevention, diagnosis and management of cardiopulmonary disorders and diseases.  It is important to recognize and share the contributions of this field and respiratory therapists.  I encourage you to get involved with the RT Week.  Check out  CSRT’s website for a list of ideas and resources.    http://www.csrt.com/rt-week-guide/

#IAmRT #RTweek #RTweek2016

Photo by F.R. 

The Power Of A Great Team


Today our PFT clinic survived a clinical audit.  I have been anticipating this day from the moment I got hired, which was around one year and three months ago.  I was hired to replace the Lead RRT/Chief Technologist.  To excel in this new role, I spent a lot of time studying and learning about ATS and IHF (independent health facility) recommendations/guidelines.   As some of you may know, a lot of effort is required to implement and continue standards of practice in a clinic.  Over my employment in this clinic, I have worked with various RRTs and Respiratory Technicians.  The success of today’s audit is purely due to a great team effort.  I work within a team who cares about their work and that includes: the clinic, the patients, the drive to learn and to grow, and the growth of the team.  Even during the audit Viral Patel, Grace Fontanilla and myself were taking notes and were listening to constructive criticism provided by Mr. Bernie Ho and Dr. Raymond Gottschalk.  Thank you Viral and Grace for making my first audit as a chief technologist/Lead RRT, an easy and successful one!

-Farzad ‘Raffi’ Refahi RRT CRE HBSc


Happy Learning

I get really excited when I come across individuals, groups and organizations that work hard to provide quality resources for health care providers.  There are plenty of them out there! Recently I came across OLEPAP.ca.
” The Lung Association’s Provider Education Program (PEP), funded by The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MoHLTC), has a mandate to develop, implement and evaluate accredited continuing medication education (CME) programs and materials that promote the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) respiratory guidelines. ” (1).

You can view variety of information such as information about workshops, conferences, Online Learning/modules, work-related Asthma, Spirometry, and additional resources.

I strongly encourage you to check out this page.  This post is expressing my personal opinion (no conflict of interest).

Happy Learning!


1. Provider Education Program. The Lung Association – Ontario. Welcome. http://olapep.ca/welcome/