Name: Kaylee Siffert
Type of Project: Leadership
For my STEP project, I traveled to Tampa, Florida to attend the American Association for Respiratory Care Congress. This event consisted of top respiratory care professionals sharing the newest research in the field. Several of my professors and graduates of Ohio State presented throughout the conference. I spent my time in Florida attending presentations and learning about exciting advancements that are currently happening in medicine, as well as doing a little sightseeing in Tampa.
When I first planned this project I was a little apprehensive. I thought I would be traveling alone, spending most of the trip alone, and just attending a bunch of presentations. I was also a little worried because I tend to be shy and attending a giant conference is a little outside of my comfort zone. However, as soon as I walked onto my plane, I saw several of my professors. The fear of being alone quickly disappeared and I was able to focus on making great connections. Once at the conference, I realized that I was probably one of the youngest in attendance. However, this was to my benefit because most people were impressed and excited that I was attending a national conference before even graduating college. I realized that age didn’t matter because we were all just as excited about the field of respiratory. I was even able to share ideas and give fresh perspectives, because I was still in school. This conference showed me that being passionate about what you do, and making connections with others that are just as passionate, is the most important thing you can do for your career.
When we arrived in Tampa, I found out that I was staying at the same hotel as three of my professors. They took a cab with me and then invited me to eat dinner with them. We met up for dinner, and two graduates from the Ohio State respiratory program joined us. We all quickly became friends and I spent the rest of the evening with them, meeting other people at the conference. I got to talk to therapists from across the nation. Many of them encouraged me to come to their hospitals during my senior practicum, because they wanted to give me an opportunity to work with them. At one point, I had been talking to a group of people for a while when my friend told me that one of them was the future president of the AARC. I was so surprised that he was just casually conversing with me. I had no idea that I was going to be in direct contact with some of the most prominent figures of the event. I even got to take a selfie with the future AARC president.
The next day six seniors from the Ohio State respiratory program joined us in Tampa. It was great to spend time with them, since they are my mentors in the program. Together we attended many presentations, many of which were put on by our professors. It was eyeopening to see my professors sharing their research and knowing that my class gets to benefit from their knowledge. One of my professors even won an impressive award. It became very evident as to why Ohio State has one of the best respiratory programs in the nation.
The two graduates from the program were also selected to present the research that they did during their senior year. I found that exciting, because that could eventually be me. Hearing about everyone’s research has helped to spark ideas of what I would like to research during my senior year. I also got to see some of the newest technology in respiratory at the expo. There are many new inventions that I will probably be using once I am a part of the medical field. An added bonus of the expo was that I won a raffle and got a free iPod touch!
I never could have imagined all the connections I was going to make through this project. I got to know my professors, OSU graduates, and respiratory therapy professionals from across the nation. I now have a list of people I can contact when I have questions or need recommendations. Their passion for the field has also made me certain that I chose the right degree. Respiratory is not the most known field, but everyone I met is incredibly motivated about changing that. I’m so excited to be able to contribute to the research that they are doing. Academically, I now have so much more appreciation for the respiratory program at Ohio State. I always knew it was a spectacular program, but seeing the work my professors and graduates are doing solidified that. I have the opportunity to do great things with my time in the program, and I hope I can do just that. Attending this conference has definitely made me want to achieve higher goals. I look forward to attending the conference in the future, and someday present my own work there.