The respiratory therapy field has seen a lot of changes throughout the years, from new equipment to new students; but one face has remained constant for more than 25 years.
In 1987 Kathryn Moss was asked to join the University of Missouri School of Health Professions to aid in the development of a consistent lab experience for respiratory therapy students. In the decades since her arrival, Moss has been an integral part of the respiratory therapy department and many of its changes.
“It’s been so rewarding to see the lab curriculum mature over the years and to see how it contributes to the success of our students and alumni,” Moss said. From her time at MU Moss has noticed that there are two things that distinguish the university’s respiratory therapy education from other institutions. Moss says the first of these is the opportunity for students to participate in clinical practice within the first semester of their entrance into the program. “The learning in clinical practice is so impactful. It benefits the students from the first week,” Moss said.
The second distinction Moss finds is that faculty members serve as clinical preceptors for student clinical experiences for the first two and a half semesters.
“It gives us the opportunity to be accountable for what students are learning in the classroom in a way that helps them develop sound clinical habits,” Moss said.
Moss describes that approach to teaching as intense “but impactful.” It is within those clinical experiences that Moss finds the part of her teaching she loves the most. For Moss, aiding in the students’ clinical course work is the most rewarding.
“I get to be there while students are in stressful situations and I get to see them realize they can think clearly in a stressful situation.” Moss said. “I like to watch them see that in themselves.”
Currently she is teaching three classes, one of which is a new addition to the field’s curriculum. The class “Current Problems in Respiratory Therapy” presents May graduates with an opportunity to explore hot topics in respiratory care. Through researching the latest issues in health care, students explore topics such as legislative advocacy and new diseases, topics for which books and research have not yet been developed.
“It’s been fun for me to see the students really embrace the challenge,” Moss said.
Over the years as all but one piece of respiratory therapy equipment has changed, so Moss has been challenged to keep learning. But the challenge is something she welcomes. As Moss reaches her final decade in teaching, she is finishing up her PhD program, an experience that she describes as both challenging and energizing.
The program allows for much overlap with her teaching responsibility. In her dissertation topic Moss chose an area where the answers discovered could contribute to the current discussions in respiratory therapy education.
Moss is looking at National Board for Respiratory Care (NDRC) exam scores as an indicator of professional competence. Through her research she aims to evaluate the respiratory therapy field’s push towards the requirement of higher academic degrees for practice.
“There is very little evidence that suggests clinicians who obtain higher academic degrees perform better.” Moss said. “Having the answer will enable us to make an evidence-based decision.”
From seeking challenges in research and teaching Moss continues throughout her tenure to strive to find exciting challenges that benefit herself, her students, the program and the field of respiratory therapy.