Yale Internship Inspires Michener Student’s Respiratory Research

Veena presentingSecond year respiratory therapy student Veena Deekonda wants to change how we discuss ethics in respiratory therapy that arise from advances in technology and care. Veena participated in a summer internship at Yale University’s Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics that led her research on the ethical dilemma posed by elective ventilation in organ donation and recovery.

Veena participated in a summer internship at Yale University’s Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics in New Haven, Connecticut. The internship brought together an interdisciplinary team from around the world to have philosophical and practical discussions about ethics in health care.

During the eight-week intensive internship, Veena attended lectures delivered by medical, legal and ethics professionals. There were lectures from Yale University professors and seminars that focused on topics such as perspectives on aging, ethics in the emergency room and transplants, health care policy-making, public health and end-of-life issues.

“I had an amazing experience, so wonderful I can’t even put into words,” says Veena, reflecting on her time at Yale. “I feel that this experience has prepared me for inter-professional discussions in a clinical setting, and I am able to come back to Michener and share these learnings with my colleagues.”

Asking questions about the future of respiratory care

Being the first respiratory therapy student to attend this Yale internship, Veena focused her research on the ethical dilemma posed by elective ventilation in organ donation and recovery. Elective ventilation is a controversial issue in Canadian medicine, but could help improve organ donation outcomes by increasing the number of transplantable organs available.

Veena feels that the issue of elective ventilation still needs to be discussed in Canada. Other countries have established policies surrounding elective ventilation and organ donation and she hopes to advance the dialogue about the ethics of ventilation in organ recovery procedures.

“Since respiratory therapists play a large role in organ donations and follow-up assessments, RTs need to be able to have a voice in the discussion,” says Veena. “Through my research, I hope to get feedback and generate a discussion about elective ventilation from a respiratory therapy perspective.”

Bringing the discussion to health care leaders

Veena initiated this research project when she was a first year student. She wanted more information on ethics from a respiratory therapy perspective and decided to reach out to Michener faculty for support and guidance.

“The work of respiratory therapy is laden with ethical dilemmas as mechanical ventilation can be used to sustain life and Veena has waded into these waters very early in her career,” says Kathleen Olden-Powell, RRT and respiratory therapy professor at Michener  “This research gives Veena the opportunity to consider some of the dilemmas faced by her future patients and their loved ones, and look at some of the dilemmas she may herself face as a clinician.”

Canadian Society for Respiratory Therapists Conference

Veena presented her research at this year’s Canadian Society for Respiratory Therapists Conference on May 21, 2015.

She was among leaders in respiratory therapy, including educators and clinicians. Veena was joined by Michener alumni and faculty Roger Correia, RRT, and Susan Dunington, RRT, Michener respiratory therapy professor, and Chair of the Council on Accreditation for Respiratory Therapy Education. This is the third year in a row Michener students presented at the CSRT Conference, and Susan explains how important it is for Michener students to get this experience.

“The conference is a space for respiratory therapists to see new equipment and share best practices that advance the profession,” says Susan. “It is a great opportunity for our students to present and be able to network and get feedback from educational leaders.”

Veena agrees. She is looking forward to incorporating the conversations among health care leaders into her report.

Veena received a Professional Development Grant from The Michener Institute to complete her internship at Yale University. She encourages other Michener students to participate in these amazing opportunities.


To learn more about Yale University's Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics visit their website