The Importance of Research in Respiratory Care

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The Importance of Research in Respiratory Care

So thanks for the opportunity for me to speak with you about the importance of research in respiratory care. Let me begin by saying that research is very important in respiratory care for a number of reasons.

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Importantly, perhaps number one. If we think of a profession. Profession is not only defined by a special body of knowledge but also the generation of new knowledge that continues to move the field forward to solve problems that respiratory therapists and clinicians face every day.

Respiratory therapy has had a long tradition of participating in scholarship and doing research. That has caused the field to evolve from doing inhalation therapy you know 50 or 60 years ago, only to now being involved in the cutting edge of a variety of life saving interventions.

Mechanical Ventilation Non Invasive Ventilation ECMO therapists are involved in the full spectrum of medical interventions, both in critical care and in non-ICU care and pediatric care adult care.

So the field as we know it today and as we are studying it today is the product of a body of research that has been conductedby your predecessors as respiratory therapist in the field, often in collaboration with pulmonary docs and critical care docs, but none the less a very proud tradition of research.

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So the field itself depends on a line of research of therapists that know how to do research, that are disciplined in the rigors of research, that know how to gather data and to think critically about hypothesis testing, hypothesis asking, writing, assembling data, writing data in posters or presentations, and in peer reviewed published manuscripts.

The Importance of Research in Respiratory Care

The Importance of Research in Respiratory Care

So the most important reason for research is that the field depends on it. In the absence of research, respiratory therapy would be a vocation like being an auto mechanic. There is not a lot of research being done in auto mechanics, but they are very well trained folks who can fix your transmission, and I would say what differentiates respiratory care from auto mechanics or any other vocational purely vocational field is the fact that the body of knowledge is evolving.

It is a requirement of all of us, and particularly you as the next generation respiratory therapists, to participate in that. That is the first reason. There are other reasons however that research is important. Perhaps most importantly it helps solve problems in service of our clinical mission, so when we take care of patients our goal collectively for all of us is to take the best care of patients that we can to produce the best outcomes to have them resume normal lives as full as possible.

It is what we would all want we when we are on the other side of the stethoscope or the scalpel or the IV, for any of you who have had that personal experience or have had family members as many of us have had or will eventually have.

This is really important, so to be at the top of our game clinically requires a commitment to read literature, contributing to the literature, and bring the best available knowledge to the bedside of our patients in service of their wellbeing. So, that’s the second very important reason.

The third important reason is that, frankly, it’s fun, and that, the participation in gathering data, asking questions, getting answers to questions that haven’t been known, and sharing that knowledge with your colleagues at the ARC or the American College of Chest Physicians, or the American Thoracic Society or the European Respiratory Society.

All of these forums are forums in which colleagues assemble to share their knowledge, to share their work, and the outcome of research project if well done, is an opportunity to engage with the thought-leaders in the field and contribute knowledge in a way that’s very fun and engaging and introduces you to an intellectual climate of colleagues who are interested in engaging with you on your work and understanding your work all of which requires, again, learning how to do this.

This is a discrete body of knowledge, doing research just like setting up a ventilator, just like understanding the bronchial pulmonary segmental anatomy, just like all of the things that are key to our clinical learning, so too is the discipline of doing research.

Wehave to learn how to think critically, ask critical questions that are answerable, to have the methodology to do so, to analyze the data, often using statistics, to display the data using clever graphic design, tabular displays, whatever format best lends itself to making a point, and then synthesizing the data in a written form in a succinct, concise way, which is the way published papers appear because of peer review processes.

That requires rigorous writing, rigorous data analysis. And at the end of the day there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your name on a peer reviewed published manuscript appearing in a high impact journal, such as Respiratory Care, such as the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, such as Chest, such as many other high impact journals.

Jama, The New England Journal of Medicine, all of these things. Your colleagues will of course recognize the contributions you have made, will acknowledge that, and that too is gratifying, and it advances the field.

So again, three reasons I think research is very important and why, as you embark on this course, mastering this and translating it into your own practice, I think are very important.

One is it’s key to the definition of the profession. Two, again, it’s key to providing our patients the best care that we can provide, bringing science to the bedside. And three, because it’s very professionally gratifying to all of us as individuals who contribute to research. So good luck in your course, I will follow with interest. Thanks very much.

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