TRU Science

RTs at Work

Pursuing a career as a respiratory therapist opens a world of possibility in health care. You will have an impact on the lives of the youngest to the most senior patients. You can work in settings that focus on someone’s health over multiple years, to those that focus on mere seconds of a person’s life. While most respiratory therapists work in hospital settings throughout Canada, there are many options, from the most high-intensity settings in health care, to ones that focus on long-term outcomes, policy and research. As some of these profiles show, respiratory therapists can work in diverse places as well as in other countries.

Mark Finnis

Mark Finnis

Co-ordinator for Respiratory Education Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria

Primarily, I provide out-patient education to people living with a variety of chronic lung conditions.
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Primarily, I provide out-patient education to people living with a variety of chronic lung conditions, most commonly asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis and various interstitial lung diseases. I see most patients one-on-one in the office, but I also facilitate the Living Well with COPD program for groups of 8 to 12 people. I also provide occasional in-services to RT and RN staff, RT and RN students, and physicians. What I like best about my role is a tough question, but it would likely be the “aha!” moment when you can really tell that someone understands something in a way they didn’t before, and that something is likely going to have a real impact in their life. Particularly with COPD, it can be a very scary diagnosis to have, so demystifying something that seems so foreboding and negative can be quite a powerful moment.

Nicole Hamel

Nicole Hamel

Certified respiratory educator
University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

Most of the my time is dedicated to providing respiratory education to the clients of northern BC.
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I have a multitude of roles. Most of the my time is dedicated to being a certified respiratory educator, providing respiratory education to the clients of northern BC, including education in both asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I am a neonatal resuscitation program instructor as well as an acute care therapist, and at times do work in the diagnostic area doing spirometry and assist with bronchoscopies. As an educator I love empowering people with lung conditions by providing them with skills to manage their condition instead of the their lung condition managing them. Knowledge is power, and when you give them that power it can be life changing for them and rewarding for both of us. Knowing you made a difference makes me love my job even more than I already do.

Cristin Horkoff

Cristin Horkoff

Respiratory therapist
Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, Trail

We care for any patient requiring airway and breathing support.
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As RTs, we work as frontline staff in acute care. All members of our team also rotate through the Pulmonary Function Lab doing complete pulmonary function tests, pre and post spirometry, home oxygen assessments and respiratory education such as asthma and COPD treatment and management. Our role as RTs at KBRH is quite autonomous. We have one baseline RT on for acute care 24 hours a day, and recently have added a second RT on days for relief. The relief RT is utilized for in-house transports, and external transports with the High Acuity Response Team (HART). Unlike some more urban hospitals, RTs in KBRH have the ability to intubate and insert arterial lines. We care for any patient requiring airway and breathing support, and are always on call for high-risk deliveries in the operating room. We are part of the Critical Care Outreach Team as well as the HART program, where we are an integral part of the care team at KBRH and work alongside nurses and physicians delivering critical care as a regional resource. What I like best about my role is being a valued member of the team. I feel as RTs, we are needed in some of the most dire cases — traumas, code blues, code pinks, and rural transports to higher levels of care via HART, just to name a few.

Ray Huang

Ray Huang

Specialist in CPAP therapy for clients with sleep disorders
Coastal Sleep Apnea Clinic

The thing I like best about my role is seeing first hand the improvement in sleep quality for my clients and the positive impact it has on their lives.

Ryan Hughes

Ryan Hughes

Core ICU therapist
St. Paul's Hospital Intensive Care Unit in Vancouver

I am stationed in ICU all of the time as opposed to rotating through the other areas of the hospital.
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I am a core intensive care unit therapist, meaning that I am stationed in ICU all of the time as opposed to rotating through the other areas of the hospital. This gives me the opportunity to provide continuity of care for some of our longer term patients, act as a staff resource for the procedures which we perform and assist with, and work closely with other members of the ICU multidisciplinary team to coordinate patient care. Even after many years of working in the field, there is always something interesting happening in the ICU. Each day brings new challenges and learning opportunities. I never get the feeling that I have seen it all. As an RT in ICU, I love using creative problem solving to manage the complex interaction between patient and machine.