Born and raised in Kelowna, Hardip Kolar is a Respiratory Therapist (RT) at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. He volunteers every year with Fraser Health’s Respiratory Engagement Team at our annual Climb the Wall: Stairclimb For Clear Air in February. We asked Hardip to tell us about his life as an RT.
How and why did you become an RT?
I had asthma as a kid, so I’ve interacted with RTs since I was five years old. I was always interested in medicine and science, and a friend told me about the RT Program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops. I graduated in 2007 and have been working as an RT at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster ever since.
What do you find most rewarding?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing. Royal Columbian is a teaching hospital and I enjoy being an educator and sharing information with my colleagues, students and other staff. Overall, what I find most rewarding however is supporting patients. Because I have asthma, I find it easy to relate, and perhaps they find it easy to relate to me too.
What would you like people to know about the work you do?
We’re an integral part of a patient’s care team – but it’s true not everyone seems to know what an RT does. We do a lot of different things. We work in hospital intensive care units, general wards, pediatric and neonatal wards. We help with a baby’s first breath and treat older patients suffering from asthma and/or flare ups. We conduct lung function tests and manage pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Our work is diverse and involves people of all ages.
What tips do you have for people living with a chronic lung condition?
Seek out information and be sure to take advantage of all the health services available to you. Find out if there is a pulmonary rehabilitation program you can join and if there’s an active lung patient support group in your area. Ask your doctor if it is possible for a community RT to pay a visit to you at home. A one-on-one visit with an RT can be a really valuable opportunity to learn more about your condition, and review how to use medications properly, in a relaxed setting.
How can people keep their lungs healthy?
Avoid smoking – and if you do smoke, try to quit. Also be sure to watch out for secondhand smoke. Get regular exercise program, eat a proper diet, drink lots of water, get a flu shot every year and avoid exposure to air pollutants such as gas emissions and fire smoke.
What kind of work do you do at the community level?
I’m part of Fraser Health’s Respiratory Engagement Team. We work with our communities in our area throughout the year. For example during the winter, we provide care packs for homeless people. This past year we distributed 200 care packs to help people cope with the winter conditions. And every April, we have a booth at the Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey which as many as 400,000 community members attend. I’m also on the Board of the BC Society of RTs, a non-profit organization providing education to RTs across the province.