This educational and professional trip to the United States of America thankfully sponsored by the The American Association for respiratory care and the Respiratory Care Foundation has allowed me to grow not just professionally and academically but also as a human being. It was a time of thanksgiving and I think that not enough of us, foreigners are thankful enough for what the United States has given us and continues to give us.

Academically and professionally, my 2 host cities planned and executed an amazing and varied program of activities. My first stop was in Louisville, picked up by Kathleen Sheely, a lady excited about her profession and willing to share much more than exposing me to professional practice in respiratory care. I then started in Lexington with Dan Perine and his staff hosting me at the Baptist Central Hospital. I was given an overview of how respiratory therapy functions in that setting and was shown everything from emergency room to intensive care therapy. I was impressed with the amount of respect that health care professionals have for each other and the team spirit. I visited a sleep laboratory and a home care company. I managed to visit an old friend at the University of Kentucky and visit their teaching and research laboratories. Visits to Kosair Children’s hospital and university of Kentucky medical center and the University opened up exciting avenues for my mind and experience. I also managed to experience American family hospitality and the “lighting up” of Louisville and Charlottesville.

Charlottesville with Dan Rowley and his team was equally exciting. I learned about Thomas Jefferson’s visions and saw it in the planning of his house and the University. I visited all critical care, physical therapy, pulmonary function laboratories, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, cystic fibrosis care, the sleep laboratory and 2 teaching facilities. The warmth with which I was received is admirable. Everybody that I encountered was willing to show me something but it was all done in a spirit of fellowship. The trip ended with the conference in New Orleans where I had the pleasure of meeting many of the other individuals who allowed this trip to materialize. I also had the opportunity to sample research done in this field. Many people took time to make us feel especially important, Vijay Despande, Jim McGuire, Jill Nelson and so many others that I thank God for all of you.

In summary, the standard of respiratory care is admirable. The team spirit is enviable. The spirit of giving and sharing is amazing. The enthusiasm to promote the profession and help mankind live clean and health lives is so visible and infectious. My exposure has strengthened my resolve to carry respiratory care further in South Africa. I have seen your resolve and learned about the strategies that you use to take the profession forward. I am as excited about respiratory care as you are. I have confirmed that you are a warm and caring “people”. You hosted us in the best hotels. You checked on us to see if we are comfortable and gave us something that money cannot buy. I have picked up several ideas and made contacts that I need to follow through with. I also respect the humility of the most distinguished people within this profession and organization. I congratulate you on your choice of keynote speaker at the opening of the conference. I carried this information home to my family, friends and colleagues. A videotape of this presentation is likely to be an inspiration to all.

Thank you very much. I hope to maintain ties with this organization and attend as many conferences as possible in the future. I will look into the possibility of inviting one or more of you to South Africa.

Lina Puckree. Ph.D. PT
Associate Professor: Physiotherapy
Head of School: Physiotherapy, Sports Science and Optometry.