Submitted by: Aaron Lesouder, 2nd year Fanshawe Student

When I first heard about COVID-19, I would have never guessed the effect it would have on the way we practice healthcare in Canada. In the first two years of the Respiratory Therapy program, I had become very passionate about the profession and could not wait to start my clinical rotation. When I learned that clinical was postponed until further notice, I wasn’t sure what I would do in the meantime. Around the same time my cousin, who is a Respiratory Therapist at Stratford General and Grand River Hospital, sent me a job posting. Cambridge Memorial Hospital had created jobs for second year Respiratory Therapy students to work alongside Respiratory Therapists. As I began to read the job description for a Respiratory Aide, I realized that this job posting was an opportunity for me to get some clinical experience.

When I first started at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, I was still a little uncertain of my role as a Respiratory Therapy Aide. Since I wasn’t on placement as a Student Respiratory Therapist, I was unable to perform controlled acts. However, the more comfortable I became with the job, the more I began to realize the wide variety of tasks that I could be a part of. One of the main roles I held as a Respiratory Therapy Aide was cleaning and preparing equipment. This involved cleaning and re-circuiting ventilators, high flow oxygen devices, and anaesthetic gas machines. These tasks really helped me to get comfortable working with a wide variety of respiratory equipment. Another duty was to prepare CPAP equipment on a nightly basis, so the equipment would be ready for when the patient wanted to sleep. This wasn’t necessarily a difficult task, but one that help me to become more comfortable interacting with patients. It also helped me to become familiar with many different kinds of CPAP devices.

While working as a Respiratory Therapy Aide, I have learned a very important lesson that will be paramount during my clinical rotation:  It is of utmost importance to be ambitious and take responsibility for my own learning.  I was able to attend and become involved with ICU rounds, help with transporting patients to imaging, and collaborate with other members of the interdisciplinary team, such as asking to assist with nursing care. Whenever I had the chance, I always liked to assist during procedures such as arterial lines, reducing fractures, and endoscopies.

This experience has helped me to bring together a lot of information that I learned in school and see that knowledge translated into clinical practice.

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