Breathing life into ethical education
SAIT Respiratory Therapy student Deasy Ardini wants to provide some clarity to a complex subject for not only her fellow classmates — but for all those entering the profession.
In addition to her regular studies, Ardini is working on an independent research project examining the comfort level of respiratory therapy students from SAIT and NAIT regarding ethical dilemmas in clinical practice. She was inspired to take on the extra research after taking an ethics class in her first year of the program.
Ardini felt it was something she needed to explore further, especially since respiratory therapists are encountering more ethical issues in their day-to-day work.
"Historically, the responsibility of making a decision was solely with the physician. Now, things are changing," says Ardini. "In the past 10 years, healthcare professionals like nurses and respiratory therapists have become more involved in the decision-making process.
"We're expected to behave in a certain ethical manner; are we ready to do that? Do we have methods that need to be integrated into that process?"
Finding answers in complex situations
In many cases, hospitals and clinics have the technology to prolong the life of their patients, but should they continue to provide care if the patient's quality of life is significantly diminished due to the treatment? Are there other care options?
That's just one example of the ethical issues healthcare workers encounter, and Ardini, who's currently completing her practicum at the Peter Lougheed Centre, says she faces these difficult questions on a daily basis.
"Making it more complicated, we live in a multicultural community," adds Ardini. "The families [of patients] may have different moral judgments related to health care issues."
Ardini hopes the information gathered in her research will help educators prepare their students to recognize and navigate the moral judgments that influence these difficult decisions.
Reaching out to fellow students
Ardini created an online survey which she distributed to all respiratory therapy students currently attending SAIT and NAIT. The survey asks the students to evaluate ethical statements and scenarios relating to their field.
Jennifer Stefura, Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) and SAIT instructor, acted as Ardini's advisor, helping to guide her through the ethics research approval process.
"It's a big project to do on top of a heavy program but it's something she's very passionate about and I think it's fantastic," says Stefura. "The outcomes from this research have the potential to impact the way we're educating our RT's at SAIT and even nationally."
Making a difference
Ardini will be presenting her research at the 51st Annual Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists conference in Calgary on May 21, as part of their education forum. Education leaders from across the country will be in attendance to hear how her work can be incorporated into training for future students.
"Her presentation at our national conference is definitely going to influence some of the conversations there," says Stefura.
Jan. 13, 2015