Respiratory Therapists (RTs) take on many different roles in the community, and RT Jacqueline is no exception. To help celebrate RT Week, we sat down with Jacqueline to learn about her many responsibilities, how she’s helping to improve lung health in Guyana, and just how important the role of respiratory therapist is.
Describe your typical day as an RT?
I don't have a typical day, which is something I really like. I work full time at Interior Health in Kamloops as one of the coordinators for the Integrated Primary and Community Care Program and as a Community Respiratory Therapist. The program has a lot of variety - I go from teaching a COPD class on Action Plans, to helping a physician navigate the system, to helping an elderly client access services.
Additionally, I work with BC Lung Association’s QuitNow team. My focus is providing smoking cessation education to Indigenous communities around my area. It is so rewarding to connect with a community or individual and support them through their journey to quit smoking.
Lastly, I am also involved in the Train-the-Trainer Education Outreach Program focusing on climate change and radon.
You’re also involved in a project in Guyana?
I’m involved with the Guyana Asthma Education and Spirometry Program (GASP) with Dr. Bob Levy and Carmen Rempel who is also a registered respiratory therapist. This project works to empower local nurses and doctors in Guyana to perform diagnostic testing for asthma and COPD, and trains them to deliver education and self-management skills at Georgetown Public Hospital. The project is supported by the Chiesi Foundation. This non-profit’s mission is to promote health and alleviate suffering of patients affected by respiratory and neonatal diseases. I had the opportunity to go to Guyana last year and am excited to be able to go again in November. We are really making a difference in peoples’ lives.
Wow, you do a lot! What’s your favourite thing about being an RT?
I love that working as a community RT allows me to directly connect with people and make a positive difference in their lives.
What do you wish people knew about RTs?
I think there needs to be more awareness about RTs as a profession. RTs are doing many different things and working in very different places - we’ve expanded from the very important job of working in a hospital and now a lot of us are working in the community. We’re also key members of both the acute care team and community team, and we work alongside Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, Dieticians, Mental Health Clinicians, and many more professionals.
Anything else you want to add?
Take care of your lungs - you need them for life!