By Marco Manso, 2017 Valencia College Respiratory Care Student Association President
“Strap on the vest, have a seat and prepare to have your perspective on breathing shaken up.”
That is what I found myself telling countless prospective future healthcare workers, as well as a fair amount of their professors and group leaders. It was my somewhat theatrical pitch to introduce the High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation, also known as “The Vest.” I was pleased at how many people volunteered to get a glimpse of what our patients’ who suffer from cystic fibrosis, along with other patients with thick, tenacious secretions, experienced regularly.
Valencia College’s Respiratory Care Student Association (RCSA) was manning a booth for the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and demonstrated respiratory care techniques and equipment, along with the-always-popular pig lungs (one smoking and one non-smoking) at the 2017 Health Occupations Schools of America (HOSA) International Leadership Conference, which was held in Orlando from Wednesday, June 21 through Saturday, June 24, 2017.
This opportunity was made possible for us through the hard work of Jamy Chulak, program director and professor, respiratory care, and Kimberlee Harvey, director of clinical education for respiratory therapy and professor, respiratory therapy. Plus, Kimberlee was in attendance along with our club throughout the event, where we provided information to a diverse group of students, instructors and chaperones from across the United States and Canada on our first day alone.
Our booth offered several interactive stations to pique the interest of the budding future practitioners. There was a friendly competition going on between the RCSA members at the different stations, as we tried to see which station could garner the most attention and largest lines of interested participants. The pig lung display, with dueling healthy and smoker lungs being mechanically ventilated, was tough competition. People young and old lined up to don gloves and touch real lungs in motion.
An intubation station was also in fair demand, giving guests a chance to intubate and then manually ventilate our mannequin. You could see competition growing among participants as they vied to obtain a valid endotracheal intubation while hoping their friends might mistakenly insert the tube in the esophagus.
But, I feel my team at The Vest gave the rest of the stations a run for their money as we drummed up business like carnival barkers working a crowd. One after another, someone was strapped into The Vest, which was then set to oscillate. After the exercise, each person left with a grin and a new appreciation of breathing. It was a whirlwind of entertainment and information packed together in a spectacular experience.
There was a great deal of credit due to the students in attendance at the HOSA conference as well. The caliber of questions asked of the RCSA club members was impressive. One could tell there was a definite interest in healthcare among these youthful attendees, but they also exhibited ample curiosity and were willing to test out everything our booth had to offer.
As my time at the conference came to a close, I felt comforted that these studious, yet adventurous people would likely be part of the next generation of healthcare workers. In addition, I felt honored to be granted this opportunity through RCSA, Valencia College, AARC and HOSA.
Touching the lives of people is a gift, and helping to shape the future is as well. So, being given the chance to influence a few of the people who may make up the next generation of therapists and caregivers was an incredible experience I’ll cherish always.