An advocate for community-based respiratory services

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”Why respiratory therapy? I’ve been an RT for 16 years and am passionate about what I do. When I’m not teaching respiratory therapy at Thompson Rivers University, I can be found training educators in tobacco cessation, advocating for more respiratory services at the community level and working one-on-one supporting patients.”

Aaron Ladd is an RT as well as a trained Tobacco Treatment Specialist, with a Master’s Degree in Behavioural Education. He also serves as Director of Tobacco Programs for the Canadian Network of Respiratory Care (CNRC).

I would like to see more investment in respiratory services at the community level. A teacher for the Faculty of Science in Respiratory Therapy at Thompson Rivers University, respiratory therapist (RT) and educator Aaron Ladd talked to us about his many interests.

My focus is community health education. I teach students about chronic disease management and client-centered care. Specifically, I spend a lot of time looking at asthma and COPD. Not all RTs work at the community level. Many traditionally work in the Intensive Care Unit or Emergency Room at hospitals. I’ve been encouraging the profession to take on a greater chronic disease management role, working in community settings and focusing on preventative health as much as reactionary health.

Consider the focus today on better serving people with mental illness and addictions, who tend to be marginalized. We know a high percentage are tobacco users and yet only one in 10 are offered treatment for their tobacco addiction. This is something RTs can help with.

I’m passionate about tobacco cessation. Tobacco addiction has an enormous impact on our healthcare system. On average, a tobacco user costs the healthcare system much, much more than a non-tobacco user. Relative to the cost of someone whose health is impacted by smoking, investing in helping a person quit costs little. The challenge however is that tobacco cessation is not straight-forward. Tobacco addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, so it can be frustrating if you measure success by only looking at the numbers of people who are able to stay quit. It’s also important to look at the impact addressing tobacco use in the community can have on the lives, and quality of lives, you’re helping. Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is the first RT faculty in Canada to embed the Certified Tobacco Educator Program directly into our education curriculum. Moving forward, RTs trained at TRU will be experts in the field of tobacco cessation and a valuable resources in the delivery of quit smoking support at the community health services level.

Respiratory therapists fill a unique role in respiratory health. RTs can do lung function assessments, diagnostics, and help education clients on how to manage their conditions and use their medicines. We who work in the community often spend up to an hour with a client per visit, so we have more time than say a general physician or specialist to explore all factors of a client’s life that may be contributing to their respiratory disease. Also, the vast majority of our community-based RTs are also Certified Respiratory Educators. This means that part of their role is to provide education and information surrounding lung health and disease.

My #1 tip for staying healthy: walk! I tell my clients to exercise, exercise, and exercise some more. Research proves a combination of cardio and resistance training substantially improves quality

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Page Last Updated: 27/10/2019