Community Corner – Meet James
Recently, SynsorMed had the opportunity to ask James Davis, RRT a few question about his experience as an RT. He gave us great feedback and hopefully his experience encourages someone reading, that it is never too late to start your passion and everyone's experience is different.
1) When did you decide you wanted to become an RT?
I worked in Banking for 11 years before becoming a RT. It was good money, but I wasn’t proud of that I was doing. I made a living off of taking advantage of people indirectly. I wanted something that was more stable and didn’t have the ups and downs that the mortgage industry did. I decided that I wanted to try to get into health care and get paid to help people.
2)Why the Respiratory Therapy industry?
I originally was looking into Radiology. I stumbled onto Respiratory care by accident. When I saw what it was that a RT did, I knew it was the job for me. I was diagnosed with asthma at 2 years old. My mother and my grandmother smoked when I was a kid, and at one time I spent so much time in the hospital with my asthma, the school tried to hold me back a year. I know what it’s like to have a severe asthma attack, and I knew what it was like to live with it. Who better to be an RT than me!
3) Does COPD directly impact you?
I know a lot of folks with COPD. My Grandmother being the closest one to me. Since asthma technically falls under the COPD umbrella, you could also say that I have COPD.
4) Any advice for those working to become an RT? Any resources that can be suggested to them?
Well, when I moved to Kansas to start my RT career. I found out that most of my team mates paid 1/3 to 1/4 of what I paid for my 2 year degree! So my 1st piece of advice is do your due diligence when selecting a school, the prices could vary drastically. Pay attention to the accredation too. (Regional vs National)
5)What are things you have learned, that would help people suffering from COPD?
So many COPD’rs are stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle. Simple things like changing to a healthier, lower carb diet can help. Losing weight can help. One more thing I’ve learned is that often times, they are so scared of becoming short of breath again that they actually have a panic attack when they start to become soa, which just exacerbate their COPD even more. I calm demeanor goes a long way. If you are an asthmatic, or have ever been soa, tell them. They take a lot of comfort in knowing that you know exactly what it feels like.
6) What is something you would say to someone caring for another individual with COPD?
Treat them how you'd want someone to treat your family member. Be patient. For severe COPD’rs, EVERYTHING they do is exhausting, try to remember that. Even doing the aerosol treatments is exhausting. Taking deep breaths is a lot of work for them.
7) What do you think needs to be improved to help individuals caring for those who have COPD and for those who have COPD?
I think that following up with the patients after they leave the hospital is crucial. We not only need to make sure they are taking their meds, but doing it correctly. Those that are caring for them could help them with breathing exercises and helping the patients stay compliant with their medications. COPD education within an hour or so of them being discharged will help them remember what they need to do when they leave the hospital.
Cost! It is out of our hands, but cost is a hue factor on treating COPD. It’s staggering to find out how many pt’s stop taking their meds because they can’t afford. Some of the meds cost $300 and up for a months supply!
8) Do you believe an app that monitors her concentrator/breathing machine would help you? An app monitoring the oxygen levels, the battery level, the location of the machine, etc.
I don’t work in home care, but I think they would be extremely useful. We could look and see if they are compliant or not. If they are, then we can tell if the current therapy is successful or not. That will allow us to make the appropriate changes.
9) What machines do you currently use to help your patients?
For ventilators we use the Purritan Bennett 840, and the 980. For biapap we use the Respironics Vision, and the Phillips V60.
10) Any background information you are comfortable sharing?
I went to school for RT in California at California College San Diego for my Respiratory Therapy Degree. The job market in the San Diego was so flooded that I moved out of state to hurry up and find work. I planned to work for a year and then go back home. It’s been 5 years and I have no intention of going back to California haha! For fun I like to fish, I race RC vehicles, and I enjoy working on my classic muscle car. I am also an animal lover!