Each month we will publish a 'day in the life' of a member of staff to showcase some of the many different roles across the hospital. This month; Simon Boote, Senior Respiratory Physiologist...
What made you want to become a Respiratory Physiologist?
I’ve always had an interest in physiology, so when it came to choosing a degree sports science seemed like the natural route for me. After graduating I worked as a personal trainer before deciding to study clinical physiology, with a focus on the respiratory system. I took a trainee physiologist job in Liverpool, then moved to London in 2013 to work at the Royal Brompton Hospital before taking up my current role at Bupa Cromwell Hospital in June last year.
What's the best thing about your job?
Working with patients is the main reason why I love what I do. I really enjoy being able to meet a variety of people on a daily basis and have a positive impact on their lives. Everyone has a different story to tell and it is incredibly rewarding to help diagnose a respiratory condition and help them get back on track.
What's the hardest thing about your job?
Language or cultural barriers with international patients can be challenging, but the Cromwell is well known internationally and all staff are very used to working with patients who may not speak English or have different cultural expectations. We have a team of in-house interpreters on hand whenever we need any assistance, as well as international patient coordinators who are a big help.
How would a patient end up seeing a Respiratory Physiologist?
Most of the time a patient will come to see me due to a sleep or lung condition, or a secondary condition that might have an impact on lung function, such as muscular dystrophy. The consultant would assess the patient and refer them to a respiratory physiologist for any necessary tests, such as spirometry, full lung function, exercise tests or sleep studies. We then compile a summary report to send back to the consultant.
What is an average day like for you?
I usually work 9am-5pm. The first thing I do when I get in is set up all the testing equipment in our two lung labs – which opened a couple of years ago and have been a huge success - in preparation for clinics that day. I then spend the majority of my day carrying out tests on patients and writing up reports to send back to the referring consultants. I see outpatients in the lung labs and also go to the wards to carry out tests on inpatients such as sleep studies, and treatments such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).
A big part of my role is managing the department, so when I’m not testing patients I sort out staff rotas, ensuring the team is happy, and managing general departmental admin.
Is this role different in the NHS to the private sector?
I don’t think my role varies much in the NHS, but one difference I have noticed is that I feel I have much more time to devote to patients at Bupa Cromwell Hospital. This is a huge benefit as I feel I can meet all patient needs fully, without having to rush, and provide the exceptional service that we strive for at the Cromwell.
Having time to fully explain treatment helps the patient to become more comfortable with it and leads to better compliance. We had a patient recently who had been receiving CPAP at another facility with little success, and it was clear that he hadn’t been given any guidance about what to expect or what the treatment actually did. We put real emphasis on patient education, and after two days of reassurance and coaching, he became comfortable and finally started to experience the intended benefit.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
The best advice I can give is to get work experience. Approach a physiology department and ask to shadow someone for a few days. I think a lot of hospitals are very open to allowing students to undertake work experience, and this gave me the best experience I could have asked for before I started my degree.