We have been connecting with so many amazing respiratory therapist, and recently we had a chance to chat with Hayfa Shakkour-Perez BSRT, RRT-NPS, SDS about her experience in the Respiratory Field. The first question we asked was why she decided to become an RT.
"The Respiratory Field caught my attention many years ago when I witnessed a family friend struggle and need life support. Initially intubated, then trached and unable to be weaned off life support for months. Bedridden for months until the RTs pushed him to contribute to his plan of care. I watched as the RTs encouraged, liberated him from the ventilator and enforced good pulmonary hygiene. I was amazed at the progress and wanted to be that person- an RT."
Hayfa chose the RT profession because she wanted to help people and make a difference. She believes that everyone deserves a chance and sometimes with a little encouragement, Respiratory Therapist can improve a patient’s outlook and improve their quality of life. She always keeps in mind that the definition of “quality of life” differs for many.
Like for many of us, COPD has impacted Hayfa's life personally. "COPD directly affects me (personally and professionally). It is very difficult to watch someone you love struggle to take the next breath or complete a basic task that most of us take for granted. Our basic activities of daily living become a hardship for most. It hits close to home when it is a loved one, however it also hurts when you are working with someone- a patient. You can feel them struggle to take one breath. Some would give up all their worldly possessions just to be able to breathe."
Working with those in her career and personal life she has learned to show compassion and empathy to all who has COPD. Allowing them the dignity and respect deserved by honoring their wishes as she works with them. Keeping that understanding that every day is a new day, a new beginning and just because one type of therapy did not work yesterday, it might work today. She has learned to always give patients a chance and have patience with them. She always offers what is available and appropriate depending on their disease stage. This shows you are respectful and giving them the opportunity and freedom to make their own decision. She realizes that this is something that is slowly taken away because of COPD decompensation. Anyone dealing with someone with COPD, she recommends to encourage activities of daily living (as tolerated) and congratulate them on whatever they accomplish. Do not take offense to anger or resentment that may be shown to you. COPD is scary and people sometimes mask fear with anger.
Since Hayfa has had much experience in the industry, we asked her for any advice she would give to anyone wanting to become an RT. She highly suggests those interested in the field to first conduct research on the profession and industry. It is very important to understand how intense the Respiratory field can be. Respiratory Therapist manage airways which can make the difference between life and death. There are many ways to go about researching the field and Hayfa highly encourages speaking with some RTs in the field within different areas. Respiratory Care is a growing field that is blossoming. There are so many avenues to venture. The patients RT's care for vary in age from NICU (babies) to end of life (elderly). The different studies that are reviewed and clinical advancements are fascinating. It would allow a clear outlook to see what an RT is responsible for. There are many seminars to attend and joining online RT groups that can be very helpful. A new RT is able to ask questions and learn about all the different modalities/options out there. Remember to always ask questions, be respectful and professional to your colleagues. They will help you blossom. Always remember that a strong therapist is built on
values, morals, respect and knowledge.
Technology is always advancing and when asked about Remote Patient Monitoring, she likes having the ability to monitor compliance/data, pulse oximetry, HR and overall status. If RT's had the ability to do this consistently, they would be able to intervene early on and prevent admissions/respiratory decompensation.
Thank you so much Hayfa for taking the time to share your experience in the Respiratory field with us. It is professionals like yourself that motivate and advance the quality of service. Your response has encouraged us and we know that it will inspire many.