The American Respiratory Care Foundation (ARCF) International Fellowship Program gives non-U.S. health care professionals an opportunity to visit the U.S. and observe respiratory care as it is practiced here. This program fosters communication and fellowship among respiratory care professionals worldwide through the cooperation, dialogue, and educational exchanges made during the visits. We recently connected with ARCF Fellow Martha Diaz, MS, RRT from Colombia, one of this year’s Fellows to learn about her visit and participation in the program.
Diaz traveled to Washington D.C., Baltimore, MD, and Indianapolis, IN to visit different hospitals, universities and AARC Congress 2017 as part of the Fellowship.
“The aim of my Fellowship was to learn new procedures in respiratory care, response times and how patients in Colombia can benefit from this,” Diaz said, who continued to explain that all information gathered during her trip will be used to share among her team members in Colombia so they can implement new procedures in their rural and urban hospitals.
“It was good to see that we are aligned in our procedures and patient security for the bigger part with the USA,” Diaz said. “We use the same medical devices and instruments for treating patients. Due to lack of financial resources in the health industry in Colombia, we don´t have as many instruments and respiratory machines as in the USA. But we are growing in this aspect and more funds will become available for investing in these devices in the near future.”
Her first visit was to Children´s National Health System in Washington D.C. where she learned, among many interesting aspects of respiratory care, about the reaction times in the emergency department to save the patient.
Diaz saw how patients were treated for sleeping disorders and how specific procedures can improve the patients´ health, witnessed for the first time a special bronchoscopy procedure, observed the work of enthusiastic volunteers as well as a dedicated team of health care professionals with passion for their work, and learned about team processes designed to keep patient care as the primary focus.
“At the MedStar Washington Hospital Center I met Betty [Akpan, RRT], who was a fantastic teacher in adult intensive care,” Diaz said. “She is a dedicated, positive and always smiling under the most difficult circumstances.”
Diaz was also impressed with the University of the District of Columbia’s respiratory program and their strict admission requirements for new students.
Carolyn Williams, BS, RRT, FAARC, organized Diaz’s tour of the Washington health system.
“My experience with Martha was very exciting,” Williams said. “She saw every hospital in Washington, D.C.” Martha had site visits at five hospitals observing respiratory care practitioners as they performed tasks and procedures that were unique to each facility.
Since Diaz spent an entire week in Washington, Williams took her to see a few other sights around town.
“There was time to tour D.C. and she went to her first professional football game to see the Washington Redskins,” Williams said. “On her last day in D.C., she was able have her only tourist request, which was to go to the National Arboretum.”
Williams credits the hospital leadership teams for making this visit a success.
“Every site had a valuable host who was responsible for assuring she would have a memorable experience during her visit,” Williams said. “Martha left a lasting impression with everyone she met. This definitely requires a lot of time and energy to assure the Fellow has an experience that would last a lifetime.”
Next on Diaz’s itinerary was to visit the University of Maryland Medical Center, in Baltimore, MD.
“It was a remarkable experience where I learned so many things,” Diaz said. “What amazed me the most is that they produced medical knowledge in their clinical trials and other studies.”
“At the end of my Fellowship I went to Indianapolis to visit the AARC’s Congress for respiratory care,” Diaz said. “Here I met professionals from around the world exchanging experience and knowledge amongst them.”
While at Congress, Diaz took part in a special meeting that allowed her to celebrate her goal as an ARCF Fellow: to gain as much experience as possible to take home.
“This Fellowship has been a great experience for me,” Diaz said. “I want to thank all the people that I have met and worked with. A special thanks to Carolyn in Washington who planned my visit in Washington and Chris [Kircher, MHA, RRT] in Baltimore. Also a special thanks to the whole team of the International Fellowship Program who organized my visit and gave me this opportunity to continue growing.”
Time to share
“I appreciate what everyone has done for me to make this an unforgettable trip that I will cherish the rest of my life,” Diaz said.
Back in Colombia, Diaz shares her experiences with her team, colleagues and students, so they can benefit from her Fellowship.
“I will continue doing my best in growing respiratory care knowledge throughout Colombia,” Diaz said. “My fellowship has given me new insights, methods and procedures that we can easily implement here.”
Furthering respiratory care
The ARCF is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting respiratory health through the support of research, education, and patient-focused philanthropic activities in respiratory care. In addition to the International Fellowship Program, the ARCF offers a variety of grants and awards to assist individuals in these endeavors. Awards and grants include: Undergraduate Student Awards, Postgraduate Student Awards, Research Fellowships / Abstract Awards, Achievement Awards, Literary Awards, and Research Grants. In fact, just this year, 17 awards were presented at the AARC Congress.
If you or someone you know is interested in the International Fellowship Program, visit the program website to learn more. Fellows help their country learn and advance in respiratory care.
These programs, awards and grants are only possible through contributions and donations.
All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.