Shawna (Urquhart) MacDonald is an active Respiratory Therapist at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). I got to know Shawna as she also volunteers on the Board of Directors at the Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario (RTSO). Unbeknownst to me, I had actually been exposed to Shawna’s work over the past four years, as she has been one of the creative minds behind RTSO Airwaves, RTSO’s publication. I am a fan of Airwaves because this publication celebrates respiratory therapists (RTs), and creates a sense of community in our field. I am fascinated by her level of dedication and contributions in the field.
When I heard that she has been helping with Respiratory Therapy Educational Retreats, I used the opportunity to gain more insight about her experiences and the Retreat.
Here is my conversation with Shawna:
Shawna, I know how busy you are with your family, work, RTSO Airwaves, Inspire 2019 planning, and the upcoming HHS RT Educational Retreat. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
Let’s take a moment and share little bit about you with our audience.
What made you decide to study respiratory therapy?
I have asthma…diagnosed when I was very young. My childhood was filled with visits to hospital, different medication trials, and even a spontaneous pneumothorax! One summer I participated in a memorable pool exercise and educational program for asthmatic kids that was hosted by the Lung Association, so lung health strategies and Respiratory Therapy have been an influence in my life for a very long time.
I knew I wanted to be in a helping profession, specifically in healthcare in some capacity. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a pharmacist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist or a respiratory therapist! However, the decision was an easy one after time spent shadowing each profession towards the end of high school. My asthma experiences fuelled my passion for the profession! I am a proud graduate of Fanshawe College, class of ’92.
Glad that you decided to study respiratory therapy!
What have been some of your memorable RT positions/roles so far?
I have held many positions over the past 26 years, and all have them have grown me into who I am today, with many wonderful memories along the way. From bedside Clinician to Student Clinical Coordinator to Education & Development Clinician (RT Educator), and now back full circle to bedside Clinician again. I have also volunteered in many different capacities over the years, sitting on various committees and working groups; planning RT Week displays, activities and events; and volunteering with professional bodies. I was a CRTO PORTfolio reviewer for 10 years, and I thoroughly enjoyed that opportunity and learned so very much! My favourite part of this was learning about what amazing things RT’s were doing across the province…this always provided such inspiration and sparked a renewed passion for the profession. In 2014, I began volunteering with the Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario (RTSO) as Editor of RTSO Airwaves (a quarterly publication of the RTSO) and as a Board member…my way of giving back to a profession that has given me so much. These experiences and roles have shaped me into a well-rounded and seasoned therapist, but there is always more to learn and more ways to grow, both on a personal and professional level.
You definitely have a rich portfolio. As someone who has volunteered with you, your level of dedication is clearly evident and appreciated! I would like to ask you more questions for a possible second interview piece, but for now let’s talk about the upcoming Educational Retreat in Hamilton.
What is the goal of this conference and what can RTs who are attending this conference expect?
What I love about the HHS RT Retreat is that it is a conference designed by Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) RT’s specifically to meet the educational needs of Respiratory Therapists. I am proud to share that a number of people involved with this event have been on the Planning Committee for several years…it is so rewarding! I have had the pleasure of wearing many hats with this event, from planning committee member to speaker to chairing the event one year…all wonderful experiences!
The HHS RT Educational Retreat offers professional networking, lectures, hands-on facilitated workshops, tremendous vendor support, and lots of prizes! What is great about our event is that over the years, it has grown to support regional LHIN RT’s and affiliated RT Programs for Student Respiratory Therapists and RT Educators. We have also built in ample time to liaise with our many corporate (vendor) supporters…we couldn’t run the event without them, and we have a unique approach get people mingling with our vendors through our ‘vendor passport’ system and prize draw. It is truly a marquis event!
Thank you Shawna for your insight!
This year’s HHS RT Retreat is happening September 18th, 2018 at Carmen’s Banquet Centre in Hamilton. The cost for this full day event is only $60 ($35 for students).
For those who are interested to learn more about this conference and to register, please click on the following link: www.hamiltonhealth.ca/rtretreat2018
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