As a student respiratory therapist (SRT) entering my first year of study at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, I was interested in expanding my learning beyond the classroom. From the beginning of the program, the professors emphasized the importance of becoming involved in the respiratory therapy community. The primary method for involvement for students was attendance at both the provincial and national respiratory therapy conferences. If students were able to bring forward research to these conferences, their overall experience would be even more valuable. Luckily, I came into the program with previous experience that would allow me to better reach my goal of starting research early on in my career as an SRT.
I gained previous research experience while completing an undergraduate degree of Movement Science while attending the University of Windsor’s Human Kinetics program. I was eager to broaden my learning by involving myself in research, an interest that has carried over to my respiratory therapy education. The Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Research lab provided me with the opportunity to begin assisting with research in my first year. Over the next four years I became more involved in a specific study that examined male and female emotional response to exercise intensity. During exercise, participants were asked to rate how they were feeling using a measure called the Self-Assessment Mannikin (SAM) of emotional states. SAM measured three emotional states: dominance (how in control of the situation the participant felt), valance (how happy or sad the participant was), and arousal (the participant’s stress level). The culmination of my research experience resulted in the writing and presentation of an abstract, “Measured emotion in men and women during exercise of different intensities”, with a fellow undergraduate student. We were able to present at both the University of Windsor’s UWill Discover showcase (which highlights student research), and in the 2016 American College of Sports Medicine national conference.
The area of research I became interested in once starting respiratory therapy was how student anxiety level changed throughout the program and prior to their semester-long clinical placements. During discussions with my professors at St. Clair College, it was determined that the second-year students were an excellent control group to measure this emotional response. Unfortunately, the Self-Assessment Mannikin was not a targeted enough measure with regards to anxiety levels. Instead, a questionnaire using a 5 point Likert Scale was developed, to measure anxiety specific to clinical placement and simulation lab.
The questionnaire (Appendix A) will be completed by second-year students before and after each of their placements (2) and sim labs (3) during the semester. It is hypothesized that with increased exposure to either placement or sim lab there will be a decrease in anxiety levels for both future placements and sim labs. I believe that this measurement of anxiety early in an SRT’s clinical career is important to understand as it can forecast future anxiety levels when completing clinical placements. This research will also indicate whether classroom (sim lab) and practical (placement) experiences can be correlated to student anxiety.
The future of this project lies in compiling the data received over two semesters and presenting on the information at the RTSO and CSRT 2020 conferences. My intention afterwards is to introduce this project to the next incoming class of SRTs, with the hope that it can become a legacy project for the respiratory therapy program. The importance of this research becoming a legacy project is due to the small sample size I currently have access to, 13 second-year students, which may decrease the reliability and validity of any results. An additional benefit of creating a legacy project is that it makes research more accessible, especially if an incoming student does not have previous research experience. I will also have to pass the study on to an incoming student when entering second year, to avoid introducing personal biases to the study.
If you’d like to reach out to discuss this research project or if you have questions, I’d be happy to respond. Feel free to contact me at PW7@myscc.ca
Patrick Wood designed and holds rights over the attached survey (Appendix A).
Please contact Patrick directly if you intend to use, distribute, or print this survey.