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Dr. Richard Sheldon Receives Association's Highest Honor

The American Association for Respiratory Care is honoring a Redlands, CA-based pulmonologist with its highest mark of distinction. Richard L. Sheldon, MD, FACP, FCCP, will be awarded the Jimmy A. Young Medal at the AARC's International Respiratory Congress in San Antonio, TX, this December. The Medal, created in memory of a pioneering member of the respiratory care profession, is presented each year to an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in supporting the Association and the respiratory therapists it represents.

"The Jimmy A. Young Medal is only given to professionals who have given a lifetime of service which has benefited both mankind and the health profession of respiratory care," says AARC President Carl Wiezalis, RRT. "Dr. Richard Sheldon is one of those rare individuals. As such, he is a most cherished advocate, colleague, and friend of our profession and the AARC."

Dr. Sheldon, who is currently in practice at Beaver Medical Clinic in Redlands, graduated from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 1968. He interned in Denver, CO, before being drafted into the United States Army, where he served six years, achieving the rank of Major. While in the Army he did his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in pulmonary medicine/critical care at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. After leaving the Army he returned to Loma Linda and served on the full-time faculty, achieving the rank of professor of medicine.

During his years at Loma Linda, Dr. Sheldon has served as director of residency training for internal medicine, director of the medical intensive care unit, director of the hyperbaric medicine unit, and chief of pulmonary and critical medicine. He was elected president of Loma Linda University Medical Physicians, Inc. and served five years in that position. He joined Beaver Medical Group in 1993 as a staff pulmonologist and intensivist.

His involvement with the profession of respiratory care hails back to his early days at Loma Linda. "The first administrative issue I dealt with was becoming director of the ICU," he recalls. "In that capacity I had immediate involvement with RTs on a day- to-day basis. You couldn't survive as an intensivist in a large ICU without well trained, aggressive RTs." That close working relationship led Dr. Sheldon to volunteer his services on behalf of the AARC. He has served on the Association's Board of Medical Advisors every year since 1988, chairing the group twice, and has participated on numerous task forces and committees.

Dr. Sheldon's support of the respiratory care profession on the national front is complemented by his support of RTs on the job. Says Patrick Dunne, "Dr. Sheldon not only 'talks the talk' but he 'walks the walk' in terms of how RTs are utilized in his practice." His clinic, Beaver Medical Group, uses RTs exclusively for hands on care.

"There are four of us in the pulmonary group at Beaver," explains Dr. Sheldon. "We've all used RTs extensively in the practice of pulmonary medicine in the hospital- based setting, so it seemed reasonable to use RTs in our outpatient setting as well to do bronchoscopies, pulmonary function testing, blood gas analysis, and handle calls from patients and pharmacies." He believes the system, while fairly unique, is one that could work well for more pulmonologists.

Dr. Sheldon has lectured throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe, and has co-authored seven books on respiratory care, along with many articles and editorials in professional journals. He was made an Honorary Member of the AARC in 1993 and is active in the American Thoracic Society and the American College of Chest Physicians. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians, and is medical director of the school of respiratory care at Crafton Hills Community College. He currently serves on the California State Respiratory Care Board.

The AARC is 32,000-member professional association for respiratory therapists. Respiratory therapists work under the direction of a physician and assist in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with pulmonary disorders. The AARC provides educational programs to the respiratory care community and promotes the art and science of respiratory care to healthcare consumers and other healthcare professionals.