Independent PFT lab

Lessons learned from Universal Pulmonary Function Lab.

I began working at Universal Pulmonary Function Lab slightly more than 2 years ago.  The lab was without a technician or RT for weeks before I was hired (to work as once a week [sole] operator.  The learning came from the challenges of working without having a prior training to their equipment, protocols and patient flow.  Here are my top learnings from that experience:

1.    Becoming resourceful.
Regardless of the amount of training you receive at the beginning of your job, the RT/Technician/Operator has no option than to quickly seek and utilize resources.  I stayed in touch with the amazing lead respirologists, Dr. A. Born.  I sought the advice of my PFT mentor Mr. Bernie Ho.  I discussed my issues with colleagues at the other PFT lab I was working at the time (Ms. Sylvia).  I accessed printed manual for the equipment and the online guidelines at ATS/CTC/ERS websites.   When put in situations like this, we have our school notes, textbook, previous instructors/preceptors, online guidelines, conferences and forums.   I am proud to say that under the supervision of Dr. A. Born, this lab holds and operates at a very high standard.

2.    The power of Body Language
Toronto is a great city painted with multiculturalism.  On regular basis, I would have elder individuals who could not understand English.  The ability to simplify and summarize instructions and to deliver it verbally, vocally and through body language is a useful skill I had to develop.   While PFT involves many small steps with many technical aspects, learn to simplify it for your patients.  It will require more attention and care but your patients will notice your effort and will appreciate it! It is all about patient-focused care after all.

3.    Independence
As a sole operator of a lab, there is only the RT/Tech, the patient and the secretary.  Doing PFTs in hospitals includes a variety of healthcare providers who you rely on or call on, if needed.   Monitor your patients throughout the test.  Some patient are not good evaluators of their symptoms.  Identify early signs of fatigue, dyspnea and vertigo.  Be aware and be prepared.

I leave this independent lab knowing that my replacement is also a dedicated and driven individual who will look at the lab and the patients.

Farzad Raffi Refahi RRT