Thank you, Dan Pinard!

The other day I received a Pulmonary Function Testing question that I had not dealt with lately. I provided a short answer but did mention that I will connect with a trusted expert. Here is a quick shoutout to Dan Pinard from Novus Medical Inc. Thank you for the quick and comprehensive answer!

If you have read any of my annual Thank You posts, that I write during RT Week, Novus Medical Inc. is a recurrent name. Once again, they are supporting the PFT Symposium in Canada. This year, 2020, the symposium is on September 18th and 19th and takes place at Radisson Vancouver Airport Hotel.

From my understanding, more information will become available as soon as speakers have confirmed their invitations. For more information, you can visit . Also, to learn more about the great team at Novus Medical Inc. visit: .

I will let you know as I find out more about the event!

Farzad Refahi


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:




#RTSO Leadership Summit 2018

Thank you Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario (RTSO) for the 2018 Leadership Summit. What a great collection of motivated attendees, working together to create positive change.

#RTSO gives voice to RTs in Ontario. To support this organization I have volunteered on the board of directors for the past few months. It is an honour working along side this driven and passionate group of volunteers. Do you know an RT in Ontario who has not joined RTSO yet? See this link for more details:

Pulmonary Function Testing Symposium

Back in 2016, I was working as the Lead Respiratory Therapist, or Chief Technologist, at a Toronto based respirology clinic.  I was responsible for diagnostic testing, training and supervision of staff, quality assurance and technical operation of the clinic (PFTs, MCTs, 6 MWTs, CPETs and Cap. Gas and ABGs).  One of our suppliers, Novus Medical Inc, informed me of an upcoming conference that focused on pulmonary function testing by Canadian Association of Cardio-Pulmonary Technologists (CACPT).  The 2016 Pulmonary Function Testing Symposium was a two-day event of talks, workshops and networking opportunities by experienced technologists, respiratory therapists, respirologists and other healthcare professionals.  Attendees were like minded individuals who were driven and dedicated to the field.  This conference allowed me to expand my knowledge, to learn from the wisdom of technologists, and to connect with individuals from across Canada (some whom I am still in touch with).

This year’s Symposium is on September 22nd and 23rd.  I am looking forward to talks by Laura Seed RCPT, Dr. Gottschalk, Lori Davis RCPT, Dr. Stanbrook, Angela Thomas RN, Dr. Allan Coates, Andrea White-Markham RRT, Dr. Myrna Dolovich, Tony Kajnar RRT, and workshops by Ontario Lung Association, Susan Blonshine RRT, Jane Schneiderman PhD, Susan Lori RKin and Tony Kajnar RRT!

This conference is organized by Laura Seed, Murray Beaton and Tony Kajnar.  To find out more about the conference I got in touch with CACPT.   I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Ms. Laura Seed, the VP of CACPT.   This is what she had to share.

The Canadian Association of Cardio-Pulmonary Technologists (CACPT) has always provided an education forum for its members.  For years the Pulmonary and Cardiovascular members of the CACPT across Canada came together at the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Conference (CCC).  Respiratory Sessions were included at this cardiovascular venue.  Attendance to the CCC unfortunately decreased dramatically in the last 5-7 years.  The Canadian Respiratory Conference (CRC) was then considered by the CACPT to provide an alternative education forum for the Pulmonary members.  The Pulmonary members did not attend this conference due high registration fees and not enough content on Pulmonary Function topics. 

In 2015, I as Education Chair, organized a 1 day PFT Symposium in Toronto at the Hospital for Sick Children.  This was very successful.  With feedback from the delegates pointing to the need of this type of symposium it was expanded to 2 days, to include not just lectures but also workshops.   At this time Murray Beaton of Novus Medical expressed interest in promoting this education forum.  This partnership has resulted in workshops that provide hands on experience in PFT testing. 

The PFT Symposium is unique as all topics for lectures and workshops pertain directly to aspects of a Pulmonary Function Lab.  It allows CACPT members, Respiratory Therapists and anyone else who work in the PFT lab to come together and learn from each other’s experiences.  What is particularly challenging is providing topics for the “diverse” experienced technologists that attend.  Basic topics such as learning to perform quality Spirometry to the more challenging topic of Methacholine Challenges are included in the program.  All employers of Pulmonary Function Labs, independent or hospital based, would greatly benefit in supporting their PFT technologists to attend the Symposium.  It speaks to the quality of care and patient safety that is provided when diagnosing, treating, and monitoring  patients with respiratory disease

The 2017 PFT Symposium will be on September 22 and 23 in Toronto at the International Living Learning  Center, Ryerson University.  Registration Link is available on the CACPT website (  The program can be viewed on the link as well.  There are plans underway to organize the 2018 PFT Symposium in Alberta (Edmonton or Calgary).

I also got in touch with Mr. Bernard Ho.  He was my PFT clinical preceptor at Women’s College.  I consider him as my mentor and, to this day, I seek his opinion, advice and suggestions.  I asked Bernie about his thoughts on this symposium, and this is what he had to share:

PFT Symposium by the CACPT (Canadian Association of Cardiopulmonary Technologists) is the only comprehensive annual educational seminar in Pulmonary Function Testing in Canada.  It provides up-to-date standards and recommendations of the American Thoracic and European Respiratory Societies.  More importantly, there is opportunity of networking among the colleagues and discussing test procedures and policies from various PF Laboratories.  PFT Symposium is accredited for 13 hours of continuing education (CE) /professional development (PD) credits by the CSRT and CACPT.    It is a great opportunity for PF Lab from the Independent Health Facility in Ontario to earn the required PFT professional development credits.


I am really excited to attend this year’s conference.  Hope to see you there!

Farzad ‘Raffi’ Refahi HBSc RRT CRE
September 01, 2017

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-Thank you to Laura Seed, Murray Beaton, Tony Kajnar and Bernard Ho.