Friday, May 28, 2010

CBC News - Calgary - Alberta offers alternative to open heart surgery

CBC News - Calgary - Alberta offers alternative to open heart surgery

Something from my obsession with CBC news. Good news for those who did not previously qualify for surgery! It's great to see that we are always developing ways to improve quality of life for those suffering from heart conditions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 2: Things are looking up

We truly had nothing left to do after yesterday so we were set loose! I shadowed an awesome Respiratory Therapist all day.

First thing on the agenda - watching a pigtail chest tube get pulled! I hadn't seen or heard of this before - so it was totally interesting to watch. I can't find any good photos of it, or youtube videos - but the catheter is so much smaller and thus less painful and less damaging to the site. It still looked damn painful when he pulled it out (carefully clamping it, so the wire didn't shoot into the lungs!!) and the patient did not seem impressed.

Our next assignment was the pediatric ward. At the beginning of the day we were following 6 patients there. By the end of the day there was only 1 little guy left. We are apparently suffering from a prolonged breakout of RSV leading to bronchiolitis. I gave a lot of ventolin (I think that is called albuterol in the states) to a lot of wheezy kids. Some took it like a champ, and some were definitely a two man job - with one person holding the kidlets hands, and then other holding the mask up to the face. One little guy was hungry and started to chew on my (gloved) hand!

A different string of RTs were on today and were comprised mostly of girls. This meant that while sitting in the back room having lunch we watched Say Yes to the Dress and A Baby Story (instead of Survivorman). 

The day went a lot faster when I actually got to do something. In the afternoon we re-assessed all of the patients and gave everyone their meds. I got lots of practice at administering puffers. 

We are allowed to sleep in tomorrow! Work starts at 8:30 tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 1: Orientation

I needed to take a bus to the hospital since I am carless and living in a dorm like a 19 year old. I had previously looked up bus schedules, but since I did not want to be late (and was meeting my classmate at 7:30) I struck out to the stop at 7:05. I was on a bus at 7:06 and sitting in the hospital foyer (better than lobby?) by 7:12. My friend showed up at 7:35, that left a lot of time to sit and think.

Orientation started slowly. The RT "back room" is a small room filled with overstuffed black leather (faux) furniture with a large flat screen TV. If there is one thing I have learned on my journeys through various hospitals, it is that the TV is the center of the RT office. RTs seem to watch a lot of TV (when they are not busy saving lives).

Nothing was really organized for the orientation so the morning consisted of all the random facts the educator could think to tell us about and a tour! I was glad to hear that RTs do all the intubating (unlike my home city, where it is all residents) and that once I am proficient at ABGs I will also be allowed to insert Art Lines! The role of the RT is not that great in this hospital's Emergency Department, in regards to meds. They do all their own aerosol treatments.
We were taken on a tour of most of the hospital including the OLD building - smells like pee, but excluding the psych ward.

We also needed photo ID - so that took a little while too.

This took until lunch.  We were given a 1.5 hour lunch. As you can see we were very pressed for time to fit in all of the orienteering.  I had a 30 minute nap on the grass during this time.

Afterward I watched survivorman for a while, before having a coffee break and being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

We were cut loose at 3. To be repeated in some fashion tomorrow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lying in wait...

I have arrived in City B to begin my practicum. I'm staying in a dorm, which is more of townhouse than a dorm really - so kind of livable. It's a four bedroom place, with 3 bedrooms occupied (including me!), 2 bathrooms, shared kitchen and living area.

One room mate is a bit odd. I asked her how long she would be staying (as during the summer, most of the dwellers are short term transients) and she replied with, "It depends if I get a job or not." So I asked her what she had taken at school. - General Studies.- What kind of job do you even apply for with that? How do you narrow it down? Well if she doesn't find a job, then she is heading back to the farm. In the mini van. I opened the fridge up, and found (among other things) a white sesame seed bun, with what appears to be a single cheese slice dressing it. It is clearly marked "CANDY" lest I might like to take it for lunch tomorrow. Ha. Not when I have delicious freezer pizza to take!

I am already pretty bored and missing home, but I'm sure that will change once I'm full on in the hospital.

I think I'll iron my scrubs tonight in preparation.

(And hit bed early - I forced myself to stay up til 12:30 last night watching the series finale of a show I didn't even watch!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Sorry, there hasn't been much excitement around here. I am mainly biding my time until the big move on Sunday, and then Practicum starts on Tuesday!

I didn't think packing would be that big of a deal, but now that I have pushed it off for days and days, it seems like there is an awful lot to be done! We hit up Costco on Tuesday and took two friends as well. It is a small feat to fit 4 people and all of their costco purchases into one car! The poor people in the back seat were literally covered with stuff.

I purchased a Magic Bullet at Canadian Tire - at the insistence of my friend who insists it is the greatest thing ever (coincidentally he purchased his at the same time as me - so I'm not sure how he knew it was the greatest thing ever). Now that I have it in my hot little hands, I would have to agree. Best thing ever. I have made a smoothy for breakfast yesterday and today. Yesterday I also made a blended coffee/bailey's/ice drink which was delicious, and I fully plan on making tomato soup for lunch today. I think this is going to be just perfect for my mornings in the dorm before I rush off to the hospital.

Speaking of hospital, I'm looking forward to having actually RT hospital stories to share here soon!

Monday, May 17, 2010


The countdown to practicum is inching slowly along (7 days!). I actually had a nightmare last night, that I was at practicum, in my new place, and had forgotten to pack everything I needed. Must remember stethoscope. I am freaking out actually - excited and nervous at the same time.

I'm up one pair of scrubs, but have yet to get my existing pair all all hemmed up. So that leaves me with a grand total of 1 pair that are functional. The new pair I bought came in shorter lengths, which is awesome, since I'm short. What was kind of frustrating is that I tried on a dozen pairs of scrub pants before the scrub lady thought to bring me the short size! She was going on and on about hemming but wait - if only there was some way to tell that I am short just by looking at me. But I digress. Ok. So one pair of new scrubs, one pair on order (that will need to be hemmed - Mobbs don't come in short), and one pair of old ones (that still need to be hemmed). So eventually I will have 3 pairs, which I think will fulfill my scrub needs. One never knows the amount human goo that will end up on my hospital wear.  

And this is good news too - although I would want them in white. Keen makes hospital shoes! How awesome!
Keen Women's PTC Slip-On Shoe

So far (in my second year Hospital Rotations) I have been flip flopping between a pair of Saucony Runners and my Merrell Hospital Shoes (see right). 
The Merrell's are pretty comfy, but not near as cute as the Keens! Maybe when they wear out.

Women's Merrell Jungle Moc Pro (8.5 M in White)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Educational Anatomy Videos

I stumbled upon this link from the MedlinePlus website: Anatomy Videos.

Some of them are pretty basic, but as a first and second year student some of them would have been pretty useful for getting some simple concepts down.

My favorites:

In general I have found this website (Medline Plus) to be a good resource for all manner of school projects in the two last years. I wish I could say my paper writing days were over, but it's rumored that there are still projects to be done in 3rd year. I'm sure I will just be able to fit that in after a week of 12 hour shifts. My plan of attack is to stay on top of things instead of leaving it until the last minute. Which is something that I always say and never do. But I really mean it this time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

I was at school yesterday and stopped into the office to say hello to my teachers. I'm not really sure how it came up, but one teacher shared that when she was in school CPR was taught to the tune of "Another One Bites the Dust" (as opposed to "Staying Alive" which is commonly taught now).

Either CPR is getting more successful (possible) or the teachers are becoming more optimistic (doubtful), or the Bee Gees are gaining popularity as time goes on (obviously the reason).

I've also received an email from the practicum co-ordinators telling me where I should go for orientation. The directions? "Go to the respiratory therapy department of the hospital." This is genius. Why did I not think of this? Maybe some directions to this department would be helpful for a hospital I've never been to in my life. Also - am I supposed to wear my scrubs for this orientation? I am going to assume so, but it would have been nice if there had been a bit more clarity. The count down is on - 13 days to practicum!

*I have finally put something on my "what is respiratory therapy" page*

Monday, May 10, 2010

Student Loans

Ok. It's been about a week since my semester ended. I start my pracical component in about 2 weeks. I am so nervous - but this is not the subject of this post.

This is about money! I pride myself on not needing much, but I do need some and I am fast running out. Running out is kind of a stretch - more like running in a deficit now.

My student loan should come "soon" and is quite generous for the next 4 months, since I technically did not have a working period between school and this semester of practicum. Then I will need to apply again for the semester September - December, and again for January - April. It kind of sickens me to watch the debt add up. On the other hand, I feel like this is an investment. When I first graduate I won't be making quite as much as I left behind at my office job, but as time goes on the scale should tip in the direction of my health care job.

In addition, I feel like I will be making a difference in the world (a little idealistic I know). I definitely was not making a difference in anyone's life when I churned out financial statements on a daily basis, wasted away time in a coffee line up, and gossiped about who the next firee would be.

That being said, I am a firm believer that you get out of something what you put into something. I obviously put nothing into my last career, and therefore shouldn't have really expected to get anything out of it. I feel much more invested in this second choice career. I let go of my job and my paycheque and have spent 2 years working towards this goal. I already feel extremely invested. I am invested in this stethoscope, and my red scrubs. I am invested in my Egan's and Kacmarek. I love everything about this time around. I hope that this feeling of euphoria (likely caused by spending too many days in my pj's watching junk TV) follows me into the hospital setting.

Time will tell, and I will still be feeling like a newbie when I start paying back these loans.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Best Quick Resource Around

I bought every textbook listed for my classes. I can't even begin to guess how much I have spent on books in the past 2 years. I have opened maybe 2 of them and I definitely plan on writing detailed reviews on them. Good books should be rewarded!

Well, this book was not on any list of things I was supposed to buy. One of my classmates received it for Christmas and they began popping up around class shortly after that. This book is a little spiral bound godsend. It has reference information for every little thing you might need to luck as you are being rushed into a simulation scenario (or into an actual patient's room - I've heard about these patients...) There are normals for EVERYTHING, ACLS algorithms, information on ventilator modes, PFT tests, common Meds, ABGs. Really everything - oh and I almost forgot a quick review on Chest tubes!

It says that it is waterproof and stain resistant, but I did accidentally drop it in water once (the bathtub, don't ask) and some of the pages got stuck together after that. When I pulled them apart there was no damage! It works!

RTScribe was recently asking for gift ideas for new RT grads and although I didn't think of it at the time - this would be a perfect gift for anyone on the RT journey.

How to Become an RT?

I've started work on my page that gives some info on how to become an RT. Really, it is quite simple and I am not sure if it needs a whole page.

Go to school for 3 years. Write a test. The end. I remember, when I was looking into becoming an RT (from the desk of my office job, every day) I found it difficult to find a good source for all of this information. Which school should I go to? What test? Do I need a stethoscope?

So... my plan is to compile a good list of sites, maybe some advice for anyone considering the career. I realize I don't have any experience as a working therapist yet, but hopefully I will in the future and hopefully this site will get to a point where other viewers will leave comments and feedback for me and others on the path.

Please note: Yes I know all this info is available on the CSRT website - but I don't like it. And the more the merrier - right?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

10 Jobs With Great Return on Investment - US News and World Report

10 Jobs With Great Return on Investment - US News and World Report

I am not American, but I hope to write the NBRC exam once I am finished the program and successfully passed our Canadian exam.

An article like this is extremely good news for my class, since the past year has been marked with a extreme cooling off of our economy. Previous years of graduates had employers fighting to get them in the hospital, and the class that just graduated was lucky to find part time work. What a change from when I first started the program and we were told of all the overtime and cash we could accumulate!

I am keeping my fingers crossed for another turnaround by the time I graduate. I am not greedy, and I would definitely take a part time job, but I am going to have to start paying off all these loans!

It's great to see the profession growing and getting a little more publicity.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Actually a third year now....

After two grueling years of school I can finally say that I am a third year Respiratory Therapy Student.

Exams were a bit touch and go, especially since I had lost the will to study, or even get out of bed.

Anesthesia - pass
Advanced Pathophysiology - pass
Vents 3 - pass
PFTs - pass
Simulation - pass
Year 2 Cumulative Exam - PASS

I was pretty relieved. I got my worst mark, in my best class - PFTs. Everything else was high mediocre.
I definitely need to brush up on my pharmacology and ACLS before I hit the hospital.

This means that after a short 3 week break, during which I have a pile of work to get done, I will uproot myself from my cozy home, move into a college dorm for the summer, and spend most days from 7 am to 7 pm being a peon of Respiratory Therapy. June and July are particularly busy, and I will barely be able to come home at all to see Jen. Luckily later in the year I will have my specialty rotations in my city, at home.

I have a log book which is quite specific and I think I will really need to stay on top of it to get it all filled in. Probably lots of exciting and disgusting things are going to happen over the next year... and I hope to write here every day or so to keep track of it!