“Remember the Alamo!”
By Karen Kaletski Dufault
On October 14-18, I attended the 2016 American Association for Respiratory Care Congress in San Antonio, Texas. This conference was all and more than I could have hoped for. What an amazing, educational experience!
While attending the Congress, I also found some time to explore the City of San Antonio and I thoroughly enjoyed its rich, historical heritage! I toured The Alamo, where Davy Crockett, William Travis, Jim Bowie and many other brave men came to an untimely end in a historic battle with Mexico’s General Santa Anna during Texas’ fight for independence. I strolled down the winding path of the River Walk that led me through the city and beyond, delighting my senses with beautiful trees, flowers, and fascinating architecture. I was also captivated by San Antonio’s Mission Trails, which are a series of missions established by Franciscan friars in the 1700’s to bring Christianity to the Native Americans of the region. Today, these buildings comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, making the Alamo City one of only a few urban areas with a national park within its city limits. Seeing these beautiful historical sites was a wonderful way to commemorate the centennial celebration of the U.S. National Park Service. This area of the country provided an unexpected, exciting dimension to my travels!
In 2015, the Respiratory Care program completed a comprehensive, re-accreditation process by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). The program was ultimately granted the maximum ten year external accreditation. In an exit interview, the visiting team commended the Coordinators and the College for educational excellence and student-centered learning. The site visitors were particularly impressed that the program was able to maintain currency even with a 20% reduction in budget and congratulated the administration for their “support of continued professional growth of faculty and staff.” The site visitors stated that this element was essential for the education of faculty (and ultimately students), and the continued success of the program.
According to Standard 2.04 of CoARC’s expected priorities, “The Program Director (Coordinator) must be responsible for all aspects of the program, including the management, administration, continuous review and analysis, planning, development, and general effectiveness of the program.” As Program Coordinator, I am charged with this massive responsibility and I address these expected Standards in my Annual Reports to CoARC. To meet this mandate, it is imperative that the Program Coordinator attends professional conferences in order to maintain currency in an ever-evolving medical environment. Careers in healthcare and medicine require the instructor to be mindful of changes in treatment and technology and we must continuously revise our curriculum to reflect these changes. Since I no longer have the time to practice in the field, the only way I can accomplish this goal is by reading journal articles (which I do), and attending professional conferences. Students in the Respiratory Care program are the ultimate benefactors of these efforts.
I am currently writing the Respiratory Care APR. This October educational excursion aligns perfectly with Objective 1.6a of the Strategic Plan which addresses currency of the college’s curriculum. “Continuously review and improve the relevancy, responsiveness, and quality of the College’s curriculum and instruction by strengthening the College’s Academic Program Review (APR) and Student Learning Outcomes Assessment processes and procedures.” Since The AARC Congress is the industry’s premier professional development opportunity for Respiratory Care professionals, this Congress met all expectations! The lectures and symposiums for this event were developed with the patient in mind, from zeroing in on the latest treatments and technologies aimed at recovery, to highlighting the new and important role respiratory therapy plays in maintaining health and wellness. The impact of disease management and the significance of telemedicine was also examined. In addition, the conference covered legislative and regulatory changes that may impact the profession’s future. According to the AARC, this is the “largest and most comprehensive Respiratory Care meeting anywhere in the world!” In the medical field, “evidence-based medicine” is the expected standard of care. The conference addressed this “best practice” in most of its lectures.
The anticipated outcomes that occurred when I attended this conference were truly centered on that fact that I have learned new trends and treatments in the field of medicine, particularly Respiratory Care. This knowledge will allow me to maintain currency in a constantly changing medical profession. I will incorporate these findings into instructional strategies so that my student-centered lectures remain relevant. A very important result/outcome of this knowledge is that my students will be better prepared, and possess the necessary tools… to take, and pass…the industry’s national credentialing exams to ultimately become Registered Respiratory Therapists!
While ideally, the Program Coordinator should attend this conference on a yearly basis, reality dictates that it this is not always possible due to time limitations and prohibitive cost. In fact, this is the first time in seventeen years, that this Program Coordinator has attended this conference! To date, Respiratory Care program currency has been maintained by attending conferences closer to home such as the
Massachusetts Society for Respiratory Care and the Worcester Pulmonary Symposium. This year, due to even deeper financial cuts, and not being able to use the program’s budget to pay for registration fees, even these in-state conferences will unfortunately, need to be paid for using my personal funds.
I would like to thank the Staff Development Committee for providing a portion of the funding so that I could participate in this magnificent educational opportunity. The College must continue to sustain this initiative! We teach in an ever-evolving world that is subject to a vast spectrum of change. These monetary resources may be the only way our colleagues can afford to attend conferences which will allow us to remain at the “top of our game.” Faculty and Staff could not accomplish our student-centered goals without this valuable support.