Brian Ring, graduate of both our Master of Science in Respiratory Therapy (MSRC) and our Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) programs, is now a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at UNC Charlotte utilizing his skills to pass knowledge along to students while also conducting critical research in the field.
We “sat down” with Brian via Zoom to pick his brain about his experience in our programs and the current state of the profession.
A practicing critical care respiratory therapist since 2014 with a concentration in the implementation and management in extra corporeal membrane oxygenation for both adult and pediatric patient populations, Ring has developed a significant expertise in the development of care protocols, evidence-based practice, undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate education regarding cardiopulmonary physiology, pathophysiology, and disease management.
While respiratory therapy has been an integral part of medical care for almost a century (officially), a spotlight has been shone on the profession due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year.
“With COVID-19, our roles have been highlighted significantly due to the nature of the pathogen, where it affects the body, primarily the lungs, and also systemically,” said Ring. “And [also] how difficult it is to keep these patients going.”
Ring notes, “respiratory therapists have always been beneficial at the bedside due to their specific expertise; we have a very invasive scope of practice.”
Our BSRT program builds on the fundamentals our students, who are also working practitioners, learn in their associate degree programs and through their everyday career at the bedside.
“The BSRT program is a very interesting program, as well as our current MSRC program,” says Ring. “It’s interesting in the sense that we are working with practitioners who have experience working in the field. We are dealing with a student population that has experience and wants to improve their career. [In the programming] you build upon the intricate ideas in respiratory therapy and medicine in general: developing research, developing management skills, and developing communication skills as a bedside practitioner, and as an educator, manager etc.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made online and distance learning a necessity at all educational levels, our programs have had years to develop in the online space. “Distance Education has been highlighted through the ‘new normal,’” said Ring. “Distance Education and online education has gained a lot of support out of necessity. Our programs are very accessible and flexible for our practitioners.”
Ring and his team are working on COVID-19 research. In concert with the School of Data Science, they are currently in the process of getting funding in the form of an NIH grant for alternative ways to diagnose COVID-19. Passionate about the field of respiratory care, medicine and research, Ring is now working toward his PhD. His future research is targeted towards developing advanced methods of viral profiling through non-invasive means and identifying the impact of socioeconomic and geographic variables on mental health for those suffering from chronic pulmonary disease.
Ring is an active contributor and co-investigator with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology (CEMALB) and, by association, the EPA. With the CEMALB/EPA, he developed a deep understanding of immunological concepts within various domains in cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary foci. During his time with CEMALB/EPA, he primarily focused on the identification of non-volatile and volatile biomarkers in exhaled breath from moderate-to- severe asthmatics, users of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), and epithelial fluid lining samples in healthy subjects.