It's this kind of research that leads to practice transformation - improving outcomes, costs and overall experience with health and health care. And patients are the reason Kirsten Holbrook, a supervisor in the Respiratory Care Department, Mayo Clinic Health System Eau Claire, Wisconsin, decided to conduct a research project.
Holbrook and her multidisciplinary team studied a new type of therapy and equipment the Respiratory Care Department sought to add its practice. She presented her findings, Outcomes of Implementation of a Continuous High-Frequency Oscillation Therapy on Cardiac Surgery Patients Prior to Liberation from Mechanical Ventilation, at the International Respiratory Convention and Exhibition in New Orleans in November 2019.
"Ever since I started as a leader at Mayo Clinic Health System, the staff encouraged the implementation of a new piece of equipment," Holbrook says. "The initiative was met with initial resistance because there was no solid proof of effectiveness. Research was then conducted to test if the equipment would make a difference in patient care."
The new equipment is attached to the endotracheal tube of a ventilated patient. This equipment helps expand the lungs and loosen secretions.
"Our job as respiratory therapists is to expand patients' lungs so they don't get pneumonia or respiratory complications. This equipment had the potential to benefit patients," Holbrook says.
"The main inspiration behind this initiative was making sure our patients were effectively taken care of with the best possible technology we can offer," Holbrook says.
The research process was easier than she anticipated. There was a lot of data collection, but Mayo offered classes on how to do research that Holbrook admits made her project more manageable.
"I want to thank staff for the inspiration behind the research, for being willing to try the new protocol, and for always doing their best work to keep patients healthy while they are here," Holbrook says.
Christopher Williams, M.D., medical director for Respiratory Care, Northwest Wisconsin Region, and Muhammad Rishi, M.B.B.S., a pulmonologist, sleep and critical care specialist at Mayo Clinic Health System Eau Claire, supported the project. Statistician Ryan Frank was instrumental as well, says Holbrook.
Holbrook says working for Mayo Clinic is inspirational.
"As staff, we have so much knowledge and so many resources to tap into. I feel that I can do things outside of my comfort zone because I am given such good support. People don't really know what a respiratory therapist is capable of as far as affecting patient outcomes, so therapists who publish are rare. People don't usually see us, but we are there," she says.
"One of my career goals and values is being part of a team," Holbrook says. "Respiratory care inspired me because my life has been surrounded by people with chronic lung conditions. It's an incredibly rewarding career to be with all these patients. Every day is different."