A Conversation with Kelly Hassall

Kelly Hassall

Experiencing asthma and a family history of Berylliosis exposed Kelly Hassall to the importance of respiratory health and set her on a path to become a quality respiratory therapist.  Through this journey, Kelly has tried various roles including clinician, educator, manager, and leader.  I had seen Kelly as a presenter at conferences, however, it was not until my volunteering at RTSO where I officially met her.  She is driven and knowledgeable and has the ability to look at things with a wide lens.  Kelly is well known to the RT community so I reached out to Gino De Pinto to hear his thoughts on our interviewee.   The following introduction is by Gino De Pinto:

I have had the pleasure of knowing Kelly for the past 14 years. We have worked together to educate students through the early days of clinical immersive simulation, help navigate student placements and most recently on various projects with the RTSO. Kelly has always been solution orientated, innovative and a true respiratory therapy leader. Over the past few months this quote from Rosalene Glickman sums up Kelly’s work as a leader in our profession. 

“Every situation – even a disaster – is an opportunity to be your best.”

Rosalene Glickman, Ph.D.,

Our profession was lucky to have Kelly at her best advocating for pandemic pay, organizing timely relevant webinars and providing pertinent resources during the first wave peak of the COVID 19 Pandemic. I’m happy to call Kelly a mentor and a friend.  The RT world would definitely benefit for having more Kellys pushing the profession forward.

Thank you Gino for this lovely introduction.  Now please join me in the interview with Kelly.

Let’s start with one of my favourite questions to ask.  I am curious to find out how people find out about our profession and why they decided to study respiratory therapy.  How was the journey for you?

Having spent a large majority of my childhood learning to control my asthma while watching my father struggle with Berylliosis, I had great respect for the number of health care providers who dedicated their careers to helping those with respiratory ailments have a better quality of life.  I wanted to give back to a community that had given so much to me and my family.  From a young age I knew I was going to work in healthcare specializing in respiratory care and management in some way shape or form.  I had the great fortune of graduating high school the year that Queen’s University and the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences started offering a combined Bachelor of Sciences in Life Science and Diploma in Respiratory Therapy program.  I was looking into the Queen’s Life Sciences program as a “stepping stone” to medical school.  This collaborative program seemed like a great fit as an introduction into the management of respiratory health.  Initially, I viewed the profession of Respiratory Therapy as a gateway into the healthcare world, as I learned more about the profession and completed my clinical year, I was inspired to begin working clinically as an RT and decided this was the profession for me. 

Once you decided on respiratory therapy as the profession for you, where did that journey take you?

I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my career to date to work with an amazing assortment of clinicians in a variety of settings.  I completed my clinical year in Hamilton and Toronto and learned a lot from my fantastic clinical instructors, preceptors and clinical experiences.  Immediately after graduation, I began my RT career in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.  I worked there in a variety of roles for over 14 years.  In addition to my time at Mount Sinai, I worked at Toronto Western Hospital as a casual for a short period and then shifted my focus to interprofessional education and training.  I began working in the Simulation Center at Mount Sinai Hospital and then joined the faculty at Conestoga College for the first few years of the RT program.  Upon returning to clinical full-time, I decided to enroll in a Master’s of Education program and focus on clinical education while exploring the realm of research.  I’ve lectured for residents and fellows in the McMaster and University of Toronto medical programs as well as a variety of interprofessional colleagues. Somewhere in all there I did work for a brief period of time as a clinical per diem for Masimo.  That role was interesting as I had an opportunity to learn about the American medical system and help out at a few installs across the border.  I also became an NRP, BLS and First Aid instructor which gives me a chance to teach the public as well as a variety of clinicians.  In 2017, I moved to St Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton where I currently hold the title of Clinical Resource Leader of Respiratory Therapy and work with an outstanding team.  Throughout this time I’ve also had various opportunities to work with the CRTO, the RTSO and the CSRT in various capacities to promote the profession, assess peers and assist with professional development.

In terms of memorable moments…what happens on shift stays on shift…that being said I am most grateful for the many inspiring leaders and clinicians that I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from.  I’m also extremely grateful for the various opportunities I’ve had to attend conferences and workshops…the most memorable of which would be a tie between an European Conference I attended in Portugal in 2013 (my colleague and I met Jane Pillow and she offered us a chance to work with the sheep in her lab) and the AARC in Las Vegas in 2018 (the keynote was ZDogg…amazing!).  I would also be at a loss if I were not to point out the pride in seeing some former students step up to the plate over the past few months to not only show up to work but go above and beyond with clinical practice suggestions, food drive fundraisers and support of their profession.

Learning about your wonderful journey gave me the same reaction of awe and admiration, which is similar to when I get to meet and listen to inspiring presenters in conferences.  Not surprisingly, you are a frequent speaker at various conferences. 

As you mentioned, you have worked in various roles.  What can you tell me about your clinical roles?  

To me, one of the most amazing things about Respiratory Therapy is how diverse our profession is.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new.  For years I specialized in Women’s and Infants’ Health.  The first day I stepped into the NICU I was petrified…the patients were so small and it seemed as though I had so much to learn.  Over the years this area of care along with Labour and Delivery became my second home. The challenge of arriving at a delivery never fully knowing what to expect and the many valuable opportunities to work with and learn from the rest of the interprofessional team made the clinical environment engaging and extremely rewarding.  For the most part, the successes would outweigh the challenges.  When I moved to Hamilton I began to spend more time in the adult world and I’ve spent the past three years learning so much from my colleagues.  The day that I observed the ICU team stop rounds to go in and sing “Happy Birthday” to a patient was the day that I realized that it’s not the clinical area or patient population that matters to me, it’s the clinicians working together to provide the optimal care for each person and the environment of respect and trust that this creates that makes the time I spend away from my family worthwhile.

In your opinion what makes a person a quality RT?  

When I reflect on the RTs that have inspired me the most, the traits that come to mind are respect, critical thinking, trust and resilience.  No matter where you are in your journey as an RT, whether it’s a student entering clinical or a 30+ year veteran gearing up for retirement, there’s always an opportunity to learn, to reflect and to adjust your practice.  The clinicians who have inspired me the most are not afraid to admit when they are being faced with a challenge beyond their experience and are quick to seek resources or help.  Instead of backing away from a challenge they often step up and look for ways to find a solution.  They stand up for what they believe in and never throw anyone “under the bus”.  They also take the time to say thank you and to acknowledge the efforts of others. 

How did you get involved with the leadership role?  What are some elements about your role that you enjoy the most? 

I have crossed paths with the realm of leadership in various capacities over the years.  When I was alerted that there was a posting in Hamilton for a full-time RT leadership position it seemed like the right time to try something new.  Fortunately the team at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton felt that I was the right fit for their needs and here I am.  I enjoy the challenge of getting to know all the various care areas and working with various members of the interprofessional team to ensure that they are supported.  I work with an amazing group of RTs, AAs and Pulmonary Techs.  I rely on them heavily to help me understand the clinical challenges that are being faced in each area and what I can do to support their needs and enhance patient care.  Since joining the team at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, we’ve implemented an electronic charting system, moved to Bubble CPAP in our Special Care Nursery, started weekly interprofessional simulation events in our ED, evaluated ventilators and now we’re in a pandemic.  It has certainly been an interesting few years.

I also am extremely grateful to have a fantastic manager who is extremely supportive in assisting me navigate the many considerations that need to be made when trying to optimize support for the RTs while working interprofessionally and collaboratively throughout an organization.  I would be at a loss if I didn’t mention the RT students.  A significant part of my role is to support RT students during their clinical year.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of the clinical instructors who supported me through my clinical year thus it’s nice to have a chance to give back to the profession by supporting the students entering our profession as well.

One of the ongoing themes in your roles is your interest, willingness and involvement in teaching and mentorship.  What advice do you have for RTs and preceptors to better assist students in their growth? Then turning the table, what advice do you have for students for maximizing their learning and growth?

No one enters into this profession to do harm.  Every student who comes through the doors has spent several years preparing for this clinical experience and is striving to achieve a level of competence as an entry to practice RT.  Every student is also a human with past experiences and a life outside of clinical.  When you are with a student, don’t assume.  Ask them what their goals are for the day, let them know it’s okay to say when they don’t know something and provide them opportunities to grow in a safe environment.  They will make mistakes, they will forget things and they will misunderstand…just like we all do throughout our careers.  Be clear with your expectations and timely with your feedback.  It’s impossible to adjust behaviour if you are not aware of the adjustments that need to be made.  

Students, you are not expected to be perfect but you are expected to be engaged and play an active part in your learning.  I would rather work clinically beside the RT who scored 65% on their composite exam but took the time to understand where they lost the 35% and how to do things differently the next time than the RT who scored 85% and never took the time to review the 15% they could have improved upon.  Treat each day as an opportunity to learn not only what you need to know for entry to practice but also what you have an opportunity to understand as a clinician and a part of the interprofessional team.  Identify your opportunities for improvement and ask your preceptors to support you in this.  Be proud of your accomplishments but also realize that just because you do something perfectly once it doesn’t mean that you’ve mastered the skill.  Every patient encounter, every cart check and every patient chart is an opportunity to learn and to grow as a clinician.  Your clinical year is what you make of it.  Choose to make the most of it as it will set the tone for how you choose to engage in your profession and practice for the rest of your career.

Your contributions to the respiratory therapy field include volunteering work. We are both volunteers at the Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario (RTSO) and I have seen you serve in various roles. You are the current co-chair of the leadership committee and the past-president! I definitely appreciate all your hard work and have learned a lot under your leadership.   How did you hear about RTSO and what made you decide to volunteer with this organization in the first place?  

Why thank you for those kind words Farzad.  Words cannot express how grateful I am that our paths have crossed.  The RTSO is a team and we all learn from each other as we grow together.  I learned about the RTSO when I was in RT school.  I happened to enter into the profession during an interesting time when there was quite a bit of tension between the CRTO and the RTs.  The RTSO was the collective voice of the RTs during this tension and the clinical environment and opportunities that I benefited from were in part due to the work of the RTSO.  When you graduated from RT school in Ontario you joined the RTSO…it was just accepted that you supported the society that advocated for you.  Then there was the membership merger piece between the CSRT and RTSO…it was a great deal as you could join your provincial and national society and get your insurance all at the same time.  At some point that ended…I’m not sure exactly when…but eventually it was brought to my attention that I was not a RTSO member any more and that the society needed volunteers to keep all the great things they were doing going.  Anyone who knows me knows that it takes very little to convince me to help for a cause that I believe in so when Sue Martin asked me to help out on the Leadership Committee I was more than happy to do so.  Things just sort of evolved from there…at no point did I ever expect to be put into the role of President position in the midst of a pandemic…but it happened.  When the expectations of the unanticipated change in roles exceeded the time and energy I had to give the rest of the executive was there to step up and help out…just as I hope many other RTs will be inspired to do in order to keep the society going.

What have you got out of your experience?

My work through the RTSO has renewed my sense of pride in our profession and opened my eyes to all the amazing things RTs are doing across the province and the country.  If there is anything that truly stands out in my mind it’s our provincial response to this pandemic as RTs.  We were faced with something novel and unknown and we worked together (and continue to work together) to support each other in doing what needs to be done safely and effectively.  It’s also opened my eyes to the true importance of working together across the continuum of care.  Due to the massive expanse and scope of our profession, it is very easy to become focused in the care area within which you work.  There is so much to be gained by breaking down these silos and sharing information, resources and experiences between the various areas of care.  Just as the patient experience extends from hospital to home, so should our approach to supporting the respiratory needs of our patients.  Our provincial society truly is our opportunity to unite as RTs across the province to share concerns, thoughts, resources and supports.  It is a mechanism through which we can unite and systematically work together to get concerns addressed at the Ministry level as well as a mechanism for addressing concerns that are central to our practice in our province.  I would also be at a loss if I didn’t mention the incredible amount of collaboration and assistance that has been provided to the RTSO by the CSRT and CRTO as well.  While it is important to recognize the differences between the various organizations, it is also important to acknowledge the tremendous amount of collaboration between the RTSO, CSRT, CRTO and various other organizations such as the CTS and the ORCS that enables our profession to move forwards and enhance patient care.

Why should RTs consider volunteering with RT organizations? 

Your profession needs you.  It’s as simple as that.  You chose to enter into the profession of Respiratory Therapy out of any other allied health profession out there.  Take a moment and ask yourself why.  Why RT?  I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that it wasn’t so that you could miss out on long weekends, sport a variety of bodily fluids on your shoes, rock the N95 imprint on your face and score an unlimited supply of nasopharyngeal swabs.  So what exactly was it?  What makes you leave your house every single day, fill out your screening tool and walk into work while everyone else is barricaded in their homes?  

A profession doesn’t just magically go from moving oxygen tanks around a hospital to becoming the clinical experts in respiratory care and management.  It was the ambition of the RTs before us that expanded our role across the continuum of care and opened doors and opportunities for roles that our nursing colleagues or others would be glad to fill.  The role that you walk into every single day is a role that has been built by the dedication, inspiration and drive of the RTs before you.  It’s up to us to keep that momentum going, to use our experiences, ideas and energy to continue to provide opportunities for our profession to grow, for our voices to be heard and our clinical expertise to be acknowledged. There are over 3500 RTs in Ontario.  If we all did our part just think of what we could accomplish for our profession and the respiratory health of our loved ones. 

What can you tell us about your experience during COVID19, as a clinician and leader? What are some of the learnings that you can share with us?  

That’s a great question….one that I’m not really sure how to answer just yet.  I would say that the thing that comes to the forefront of my mind is that as crazy as this all may seem at times with all of the unknowns, I am grateful and I am proud.  I’m proud of our profession for stepping up in less than ideal times to use our skills and resources to figure out how to approach the various aspects of this pandemic.  I’m proud of our families for supporting us in what we need to do and sacrificing time at home with us so that we can ensure the health and safety of others.  I am grateful for the generosity of the communities that have provided support in whatever way they can whether it was a painted rock, a baby monitor, ear saver, a meal or a donation to our food drives.  While no one can argue that clinical skill, PPE and equipment are necessary to get us through this pandemic, I believe that kindness and understanding have helped us make it this far and play a huge role in us seeing this to the end.

COVID-Simulation with Paramedics. Kelly Hassal and Dr. Erich Hanel

How do you see our field change over the next few years?  Also, what changes do you hope to see?

Another great question Farzad.  From a provincial standpoint, I hope to see a restored focus from the Ministry of Health and the public on the importance of respiratory care and respiratory health.  I would like to see the profession of Respiratory Therapy brought to the forefront as experts in respiratory care and management across the continuum of care.  That would mean a greater presence in home and community care as well as an opportunity to engage in initiatives within long term care and retirement homes.  I would like to see funding for research for initiatives such as research into PTSD among Respiratory Therapists and supports to ensure that the mental health of our colleagues is at the forefront.  I would also like to see the Allied Health Fund restored to support the continuation of education and training for our colleagues.  From a professional standpoint, I would like to see continued collaboration between RT leaders throughout the province and the country to share resources and experiences to address challenges and concerns.  I would also hope to see increased engagement of frontline staff members in the various respiratory-related organizations and societies throughout the province and country.  

When you are not contributing at work and volunteering positions, how do you enjoy your time?

Outside of work and volunteering I’m the proud mother of two amazing children and the wife of an extremely understanding non-healthcare husband.  We also adopted a kitten in February of this year and we are extremely fortunate that he’s easy going as he’s constantly being picked up and cuddled.  When we’re not running between activities, we love to spend time outside hiking, creeking, canoeing and riding bikes.  Any other summer would be filled with BBQs, family gatherings and festivals as well.  I also like to bake and quite often thank my colleagues for the great work they do with cupcakes and other treats.  I also used to really enjoy travelling…I look forward to getting back to that someday.

Any final words to the readers?

Thank you.  Thank you for everything you do every day to ensure that you and those around you get through this pandemic.  Take care and stay safe.

It has been my pleasure sharing this interview with you all.  Once again,  thank you, Kelly, for taking the time to share your experiences and insights with us all!

To the readers of this piece, what are your thoughts and reflections? If you have enjoyed this interview, please share with others! Thank you for joining me on this journey of learning!

Farzad Refahi
August 23, 2020

Let’s read an article a month – March 11, 2020

Screenshot of the first page of the article by Morgan et al. Ready by Farzad Refahi and shared on www.Respiratory.Blog

An Article A Month

Every month I try to read an open-access article. After reading the article, I share the tittle and associated link with my followers. This is to encourage clinicians to read articles, stay up to date, and continue to grow.

I found an article on March 9th, 2020. I spent a few days with it, and now I share it with you.

Variability In Expiratory Flow Requirements Among Oscillatory Positive Expiratory Pressure Devices 

by Sherwin E. Morgan, RRT, Steven Mosakowski, RRT, MBA, Brenda L. Giles, MD, Edward Naureckas, MD, Avery Tung, MD, FCCM
Published online March 4, 2020. Available on The Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy (CJRT) : https://www.cjrt.ca/wp-content/uploads/cjrt-2019-025.pdf

Top 3 Reasons Why I enjoyed this Article

Firstly, this article is quick and easy to read.

Secondly, I had forgotten about the various Oscillatory Positive Expiratory Pressure (OPEP) devices on the market. This article was a nice introduction to various flows and pressures required to operate the units. The authors provide a recommendation for which units to be used by which population (small vs. larger patients) on page 10.

Thirdly, in the introduction the authors discuss the proper technique for using these devices (referencing Olsen et. al). You can find this description on pages 7 and 8.

Once again, you can view this article by visiting CJRT (which is owned by Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists): https://www.cjrt.ca/wp-content/uploads/cjrt-2019-025.pdf

Happy Reading! Let me know what you think.

Farzad Refahi

Christina Dolgowicz

I always enjoy attending Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) conferences, as there are variety of speakers, topics and streams. In May 2107 at the CSRT Conference in Halifax, I attended a talk, titled ‘Creating a Regionalized Lung Health Program’, by Christina Dolgowicz and Michelle Maynard. While I enjoyed the talk, I was more blown away by the dedication and hard work of the speakers.

As I slowly become more involved with the RT community, read articles and speak to healthcare providers, I hear more about Christina’s work. Some of her current and past roles include Chair of Champlain LHIN Lung Health Network, Lung Health Coordinator, Certified Respiratory Educator, RRT at The Ottawa Hospital, member at Quality Ontario and many other RT roles. Her contributions in the respiratory field vary from direct patient care and education, advisory to policy making, to establishing and promoting community-based pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Christina is highly respected among her colleagues and in the RT community, so I was delighted when she agreed to answer few questions about her journey, thoughts and views.

When did you first hear about the respiratory therapy field? What made you decide to become an RT?

I was completing my 3rd year of University and didn’t know what I wanted to do but knew I had to find a job when it was all done! I wanted also to come back to Eastern Ontario and thought I could go to school in Ottawa and started looking into college courses. My criteria for a program:

1. I wanted to go into healthcare

2. I didn’t want to be a nurse

So I looked into the courses that Algonquin College offered and it was between Respiratory Therapy and Diagnostic imaging… I met with the Anita Gallant (course coordinator at the time) to find out what being an RT was all about. To be honest, the only thing that stuck with me was: I got to wear scrubs and hold a pager – that sounded like being a doctor and looking like they do on the TV show ER – so I applied – and got in! It was during that first week that I found out what RTs do –like an ABG! (up until that point I did NOT do well with blood) so I almost dropped out… but thankfully I met some awesome classmates and stuck it out.

With various roles and years of experience, what are some of your memorable roles so far?

To be honest, I have been lucky to enjoy all of the roles I have worked thus far. I started originally at the Ottawa Hospital (2004) and despite working full time in the community now, I still work casual at the hospital. The hospital allows you to react quickly to critical situations and work as part of an interdisciplinary team – RNs, PTs, MDs and other RRTs. It’s professionally and personally rewarding – you get some great experience and make lifelong friends along the way.

Currently – my role as coordinator of the Lanark Renfrew Lung Health Program – is my most exciting role so far. I work with an awesome group of RRTs who are passionate about lung health in primary care (education, early screening, management, rehab) and their passion and wanting to make a change (and willing to say yes to opportunities that come our way) is what makes my job so much fun.

What is your passion that drives you each day working as an RT?

My passion is seeing the difference our program makes in peoples lives. In my current role, unfortunately I have less contact with clients, but I hear the stories through the rest of the team I work with. Occasionally I get to work out in the rehab program and it’s a humbling experience to see the daily struggles that people with chronic lung conditions live with. I also hear about frustrations from clients in regards to the lack of services that are available – and this also drives me to work harder in creating partnerships with other organizations to increase access to lung health services in primary care.

How did you get involved with promotion, initiations, implementations and operation of community lung health education and community-based pulmonary rehab programs?

I originally started working in primary care in 2006 at the North Lanark Community Health Centre and gained so much experience from my supervisor, Karen Jones. She worked very hard and advocated for RTs in primary care and she grew the program from 3 sites with 1 RRT to more than 10 sites and 4 RTs. With working at the hospital and in the community, I got a good sense of where I wanted to spend the majority of my career. I was frustrated at the hospitals with the amount of time it took to make a simple change – only because big tertiary centers are so large and changing policies/procedures takes a looonnnggg time. Making simples changes in primary care was much easier and there is such a need for RTs in primary care, so it was a perfect fit for me to remain working in primary care. Because of Karen’s guidance and mentorship and the success of the lung health program – I was able to continue her work and advocate for services that spread further than the sites we were currently working out of. I’m also someone who can’t sit still and need to continue to push forward for improving care for clients with lung disease. This may be a downfall, but I say yes to many opportunities that come our way because who knows what may come out of it!

What have been some of the challenges along the way?

Some of the challenges that are lack of funding and lack of communication amongst health care organizations. We are all working to improve the health care system experience, but sometimes it feels like we are all doing it alone. By working together, advocating for change, utilizing existing resources – it can really make a difference.

How can other leaders, communities, and health programs learn from your experience?

Just reach out! We are all working to continuously improve the client experience, ensure that we are meeting their needs and goals. By sharing our experiences together, we can share what we’ve learnt so far (and I will get some ideas from you as well!).

Can you share some thoughts about the role of community based pulmonary rehab programs?

A community pulmonary rehab program plays such an important role– it connects people and creates a peer support group, care can be provided close to home and out of hospitals/tertiary care centres. By keeping it in the community and out of hospital, it decreases participants risk of getting sick, participants can be connected to local programs to exercise with after the program is done, it saves the participant cost/time of travelling to a large organization and paying for parking and finally, because our staff work in the community – they may already be connected to many of the primary care providers who send us clients and it makes connecting and consulting that much easier. It is also less expensive to run a community program than a hospital program.

How can RTs be more involved with such initiatives (planning, decision making and operations)?

Look to your supervisors/managers and share your ideas with them! It always helps if those ideas i) align with the goals of where you work ii) improve the client experience iii) improves outcomes/quality of care and iv) saves the organization money! And don’t get discouraged – sometimes these things take time – but when the ideas come to life – it’s all worth it.

Any advice on how new RT’s can build up their leadership experience?

Get involved in your provincial and national associations – even if you’re fresh out of school! You can learn so much from RTs across Canada and you never know when those friendships produce an opportunity. I was on the CSRT Board of Directors in 2007 – 3 years after I graduated – and to this day I still meet up with the friends I made while I was on the board and that experience of serving on a national board really opened up my eyes as to how the profession worked.

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience working as Quality Standards Committee for COPD, part of Health Quality Ontario?

Health Quality Ontario – COPD Quality Standards Committee was a great opportunity for me. I was able to be a part of a provincial group, bringing together top players and lived-experience advisors to talk about COPD in primary care – something I am very passionate about! It was great to ‘dream big’ and produce quality standards of care that people should receive if they are diagnosed with COPD. They will be officially released in Spring/Summer of 2018 and it will be great to see how practices are changed based on these quality standards.

What is the next big growth area that you see for the RT profession?

I believe that the trend now is to have more RTs working in primary care. Traditionally we have been a tertiary care discipline – and the majority of our training is focused around working in critical care areas. We are seeing more and more RTs taking on a role of a case manager in primary care, managing chronic ventilated patients in the community, running rehab programs, delving into the management of cardiac conditions – it is so exciting! Primary care wants RTs to work with them. Not once have I heard a primary care team say: we don’t need an RT. They are calling asking: can you send us an RT? J I encourage RTs who are interested in working in the community to take the certified respiratory educator course and look for opportunities in primary care. It may start as spirometry screening and grow into a pulmonary rehab program – you never know!

How can RTs be more involved with decision making and planning in the hospitals, communities and ministry levels?

As mentioned above, start by getting involved with your professional associations (many of them are working at the ministry level), local lung association or find a task force/working group or committee at your hospital to get involved with. Maybe there isn’t one? If you have an idea and some support – create one!

Any advice on how RTs can expand their framework to support each other in a uniform and national way?

Join your professional and national association! Your regulatory college is there to protect the public – your professional associations are there to promote RTs and work for you! The worst thing I hear is people complaining about their lack of pay, their lack of respect amongst other health care providers, the lack of change in their job – want something to change? Get involved! There are some amazing, engaged RTs in Canada who are facing the same struggles that you may be facing – and by working together, we can make a difference.

Thank you Christina for allowing me to share your perspective and views with others. Also, thanks for your great contributions to the field of Respiratory Therapy!
Farzad ‘Raffi’ Refahi

Feb 01, 2018

Presenting At CSRT

In 2016, I gave a talk at the annual Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists, CSRT, Conference.   At that time I was working six days a week, running a blog, and was trying my best to prepare for the presentation.  I was excited, nervous and driven.  My presentation was far from perfect, however, I learned a lot in the process and from the self-reflection after it was completed.

Here are my top three pieces of advice for first time presenters at CSRT:

  1. Quality.
    Know more about the topic than most people in the room. Do your research but don’t invest all your time on the research component.  There will always be individuals who would know more about the topic than you would, however gather enough information so your talk would be beneficial to most people in the room.  Presenting at CSRT requires quality and professionalism.  Do your research, deliver the quality, but don’t spend the whole time sharing your research.
  2. Keep It Simple.
    Collect all the relevant information, process it and present it in few key points.  A 45 minutes long talk is a short time to discuss all your findings.  It is best to summarize or select only 3 to 5 key ideas/points, and then focus on the delivery of those points.  Keep it simple.  Present the key points without relying too much on technology.  There seems to be always some technical issue during talks (happened during mine).
  3. Practice… Practice… Practice.
    Get to know your material. I would encourage practicing enough to memorize. Practice in front of friends and individuals in the field.   Use the feedback from the practice runs and modify your presentation until it is smooth and simple while delivering the main ideas.  I videotaped my practice runs so I would identify areas that required more attention.  Don’t be afraid to connect with your audience. Get to the room that your will be presenting early or during breaks. Stand where you will be presenting, look around and get to know the room.  During your presentation don’t forget to breathe.

  Here is the link to CSRT’s  Call For Presenter’s page: 


Good luck!

Farzad ‘Raffi’ Refahi HBSc RRT CRE