The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2012 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Georgianna Sergakis, Crystal Dunlevy, Sarah Varekojis; The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Background: COPD is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Community screenings are critical in order to screen and educate at-risk individuals. Respiratory Therapy (RT) students in the course, RT 420: Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Continuing Care, investigate respiratory care in settings outside of the acute care environment. The course includes topics such as pulmonary disease management, tobacco dependence counseling and cultural competence. The culminating course experience was a COPD screening event at the YMCA Senior Expo. This service learning experience allowed students to apply course concepts and provide a valuable community service. The purpose of the study was to explore student reflections following a service-learning experience in this community setting. Method: Twenty-two undergraduate RT students facilitated a COPD screening and submitted written commentary following the event. The authors applied inductive analysis and ultimately reached consensus on three category topics: awareness, health communication, and functional health. Results: All of the RT students described their experience as positive and valuable. Most reported growth in the areas of communicating health information and interpersonal interactions with older adults. Students noted functional health definition variations in the elderly participants, decreased alarm for living with pulmonary disease symptoms and increased interest in improving health. Conclusions: Service-learning as a teaching and learning strategy was appreciated by RT students and contributed to deeper understanding of the complex social and professional issues in respiratory care. Promoting community involvement in this way is mutually beneficial for both the student and the community. Made possible by a grant from The Ohio State University Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Sponsored Research - Made possible by a grant from The Ohio State University Area Health Education Center (AHEC)