A day in the life of: Dawn Shackell, Lead Respiratory & Exercise Physiologist

As we continue to celebrate Healthcare Science Week, Dawn Shackell, Lead Respiratory & Exercise Physiologist, explains what her role involves.
“Within the Respiratory Physiology laboratory, we carry out a wide range of routine and advanced breathing tests, which provide vital data for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of many respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.
“At the start of each day, I calibrate the lung function equipment for quality control and assurance purposes, triage referrals received for diagnostic tests, check the clinic lists and then make sure the rest of the team are happy and equipped for the day ahead.
“After that my day can vary greatly depending on the tests we perform.
“My clinical work consists of performing routine pulmonary function tests, which assess lung capacity, airway calibre and gas exchange, or performing cardio-pulmonary exercise tests (CPET). This measures a patient’s capacity to exercise and is used when we are assessing unexplained breathlessness, or to help identify factors which might limit the ability to exercise. It is also a pre-operative measure for patients undergoing major surgery, to make sure they are fit enough, and predict post operative complications and mortality.
“Some of the other advanced diagnostic tests which I may perform include hypoxic challenge tests (this is to make sure patients are fit to fly or if they require oxygen for the flight), bronchoprovocation tests, which is to diagnose bronchial airway hyperreactivity or asthma, and exercise induced asthma tests on paediatric patients.
“A proportion of my work is non-clinical and includes management, teaching and service development. Throughout the day I am always on hand for clinical support if required, and to address any issues or concerns that may arise.
“I am lucky to work within an amazing team, which makes my job enjoyable and rewarding.”