54th Congress

Congress Gazette

Friday, December 12, 2008


AARC Congress to welcome attendees from around the world

by Michael A. Gentile, RRT, FAARC, Program Committee Chair

Health care professionals from all over the world are gathering in Anaheim, CA, today as we prepare to convene the 54th International Respiratory Congress, which will kick off Saturday morning with the annual Awards Ceremony and run through Tuesday.

The next four days will be full of presentations on the topics respiratory therapists want to know most about, delivered by the speakers they most want to hear from, along with cutting-edge research and an Exhibit Hall packed with the latest and most advanced respiratory care technology our profession has to offer.

Attendees will also have the chance to network with leading respiratory health professionals from the United States and abroad and earn all the continuing education credit they need to maintain their license to practice (over 26 hours).

With Orange County and its vast array of entertainment opportunities standing by, the Congress promises to deliver everything you need to enhance your careers and your lives.

So if you’re attending the Congress in Anaheim, get ready to experience the exhilaration of the AARC Congress! If you’re back home keeping up with Congress activities through this Online Gazette, check back often for the latest updates—and start planning now to join us for the 2009 meeting in San Antonio, TX!

The Congress-goer’s checklist

With so many activities going on all at once here at the Congress, making the most of their time can be a real challenge for any RT. If you are attending this year’s Congress, or you plan to in the future, here are a few tips you can use to ensure you go home with all the information you came for:

  • Budget time after sessions to visit with lecturers and ask questions—all the lecturers at this meeting (even the biggest names here) will be available after their talks to speak directly with attendees.
  • Use the Congress to explore new career paths. All the Specialty Sections and Roundtables host meetings, and everyone (not just current members) is invited to attend.
  • Network with your colleagues to learn more about what they’re doing at their facilities and explore job opportunities around the country.
  • Collect business cards of the folks you meet and jot down notes on the back of the cards to remember who’s who and why they may be important to your future.
  • Set aside time each day to visit the Exhibit Hall and make a list of the vendors you want to see during each excursion. Remember: the Hall is open today through Monday, so you don’t have to see it all at once.
  • Ask vendors to share the scientific proof behind their new technologies and inquire about opportunities to conduct joint research projects. Synergy is everywhere!
  • Take advantage of vendor-sponsored events and be sure to request follow-up calls or visits from vendors once you get back home.

Keynote address focuses on patient safety

Timothy McDonald

Timothy McDonald

What is your risk when you use an “off-label” medication or device? Are you placing yourself in legal jeopardy if you re-use disposables? What are the legal and ethical implications of withdrawing support from someone who has been declared a “cardiac death”?

Patient safety is a hot topic in health care today, and Congress attendees will learn more about it Saturday morning (Dec. 13) from our keynote speaker, Timothy B. McDonald, MD, JD. As chief safety and risk officer for health affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. McDonald oversees a comprehensive disclosure program that’s brought increased safety for patients while at the same time reducing the number of malpractice filings against the facility. He’ll share his insights following the Awards Ceremony in a talk entitled “Legal and Ethical Pitfalls in Respiratory Care” that’s garnered rave reviews from RTs who have heard it in the past.

In addition to his patient safety position, Dr. McDonald is a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine with more than 25 publications in peer-reviewed journals to his credit. He earned his medical degree from Indiana University in 1983 and his law degree from Loyola University in 1997. In 2004 he served as medical director for the Illinois Society for Respiratory Care.

Welcome to our 2008 International Fellows


International Fellow Heidi Markussen, RN, (left) visited the AARC Executive Office while in Dallas, TX, on her first city rotation observing U.S. hospitals. With her are John Hiser, MEd, RRT, FAARC, chair of the International Committee, and Sigurd Aarrestad.

The AARC Congress is hosting some very special visitors this week—our 2008 International Fellows. Each of these deserving individuals has been busy touring respiratory care facilities in cities across the country over the past couple of weeks, and we’re pleased to have them join us now for our premiere educational event of the year:

  • Qixing Wang, BS, RT (China)
  • Fiona Ng, MN, RN (Hong Kong)
  • Alberto López Bascopé, MD (Mexico)
  • Rufus Adesoji Adedoyin, PhD (Nigeria)
  • Heidi Markussen, RN (Norway)
  • Susana Alcabes Lindenfeld, MD (Peru)

The International Fellowship Program, now in its 18th year, has hosted more than 120 health professionals from around the world who have taken the respiratory care message back to their home countries.

Respiratory Care Idol

RC Idol Presenters at the AARC Congress include the leading names in respiratory care and pulmonary medicine. Last year the AARC Program Committee held open auditions for new speakers, and 12 first-time speakers will be presenting this year.

The Program Committee is continuing Respiratory Care Idol this year with the goal of opening up next year’s lectures in San Antonio to up-and-coming researchers and speakers who can add new insights to our Congress. Auditions are being held 5–6:35 pm Saturday in Rooms 213 A-B. New speakers are chosen based on appeal of topic, knowledge of content, quality of visual aides, delivery of lecture, and adherence to the 10-minute time limit.

HSRC student experiencing the HOD firsthand

Last year, the Hawaii Society for Respiratory Care (HSRC) decided to send a respiratory therapy student to attend the House of Delegates meeting at the AARC Congress in Orlando. The goal: help prepare future RTs for leadership roles within the state society and the AARC.

Amy Otsuka came back from the meeting full of enthusiasm for her new profession; and now a new student, Michelle Low, is poised to take up where Otsuka left off. Chosen to attend this year’s meeting in Anaheim, she is busy learning how the House works from the inside out. “Attending the HOD meeting is an opportunity of a lifetime and one that will help me in the future as an RT,” says the Kapi’olani Community College (KCC) student. “It will enable me to have a ‘heads up’ on how RTs who are involved in leadership take action in order to drive the profession forward.”

Steve Wehrman, RRT, RPFT, AE-C, program director at KCC, says the experience is an extension of the Hawaii Society’s long-time commitment to bringing students into the organization as early as possible. “The Hawaii Society has long recognized the need to develop future leaders and has had students serving on the HSRC Board for many years,” he notes. “When the opportunity came to send a student to the House of Delegates, we knew we had found another key to building our future.”

Wehrman says Otsuka has become very involved in the state society since her attendance at the HOD meeting in 2007, and he fully expects Low will do the same. “The only way to understand the magic of ‘nationals’ and the ‘House’ is to go there and get it first hand,” says the educator.

Michelle Low agrees. “I want to learn more than oxygen, suctioning, and mechanical ventilation,” she says. “It’s not just what happens at the patient’s bedside, because what happens politically and economically may affect my role as an RT.”

RTs have lungs, too

Respiratory therapists breathe in and out just like everyone else. If you are attending this year’s Congress in Anaheim, you can find out how well you’re doing it by visiting the Mobile Spirometry Unit (MSU) team in Booth 930 Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 pm, and Monday from noon to 2 pm.

Testing is being offered to help the AARC establish the efficacy of a new testing protocol that’ll be used as the MSU heads out on its 2009 schedule of events. Last year the 12-foot trailer (which can be seen outside the Convention Center) visited about 20 cities, where AARC members partnered with the COPD Foundation to test nearly 16,000 people, and more than 23 million heard important lung health messages through onsite or TV exposure.

“Our biggest goal is to make sure the quality of the testing is appropriate,” says Steve Nelson, MS, RRT, FAARC, AARC associate executive director, IT operations. “We’re using RTs with a pulmonary function background who are familiar with the testing procedures and can help avoid common errors when screening the public.”

Want to join the MSU team? Ask how when you come by the booth.

AARC Benchmarking System adds 2 outcome measures

The first new outcome measure is a modification of an existing metric that assesses productivity and efficiency based, in part, on the number of ventilator assessments performed. Although counting ventilator assessments to determine the amount of labor hours required for ventilator care is the methodology used in other commercially available benchmarking programs, it can make managers who have adopted more efficient evidence-based practice by performing fewer ventilator assessments appear less efficient. To resolve the unfavorable bias, a new metric using a time standard link to a ventilator day has been developed. Thus, regardless of the number of ventilator assessments performed, assessment of your performance ranking in terms of resources needed for each vent day can be performed.

Another new metric reflects how many total days of ventilation are associated with each first day of mechanical ventilation. Because initial and subsequent days of mechanical ventilation are already being reported, there is no need to report additional data. This determination of ventilator duration can be used to both trend and compare.

The AARC gratefully acknowledges the support provided by Draeger in the development of these new outcome measures. Visit www.aarc.org/resources/benchmarking/ for information about the AARC Benchmarking System.