Katie Johnson, a pulmonary function technologist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, talks about her job.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: I do pulmonary function testing on patients from age 5, and sedated pulmonary function testing on infants. The tests include spirometry and lung volume. I also do bronchioprovocation testing, exercise and cold-air challenge testing with patients who have or may have asthma. I also do maximal exercise testing for cardiology patients, and for high-performing athletes to determine if their lungs or conditioning issues are limiting their performance. I am on the cystic fibrosis team and test these patients' pulmonary function on a regular basis.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger health care picture?
A: My role is preventive medicine. Specialty medicine in chronic diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis can prevent using more complicated and invasive procedures and hospitalizations. Keeping cystic fibrosis patients' lungs healthy affects their quality of life and life expectancy.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I interact mostly with patients and their families, but also with doctors, nurses, medical assistants, research coordinators, and other disciplines throughout the hospital, such as laboratory staff.
Q: Why did you become a pulmonary function technologist?
A: I chose respiratory therapy because I wanted to be very specialized. Pulmonary function technology is even more specialized.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: I like that it's focused on a very narrow part of health care and I love pediatrics. The kids are amazing. It's fun to see them doing well. It's sad when they're sick but then you get to see them climb back up. Also, I'm very equipment-oriented. It's always nice to get new equipment and new technology.