Hi! My name is Richard Johnston. Pulmonary Function testing is an often overlooked and under-appreciated field. I first started working in a Pulmonary Function Lab with manual test systems in 1973 where I had to measure pen traces on kymograph paper and hand-calculate test results. I’ve built, maintained, repaired and modified test equipment since I started in this field. I started working with computers in the 1970’s and designed and wire-wrapped my own hardware interfaces for them because that’s what you had to do at the time. I’ve programmed computers for research and routine clinical testing and somehow managed to have one of the first networked PFT labs in Boston. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about equipment but that’s because I broke a lot of things along the way too.
Against my inclination and better judgement I have been a lab manager for over 30 years. I found that my job description changed every year and that my hospital managers always seemed to feel that I was supposed to have figured what the changes were on my own. Although I’ve done my share of research I’ve come to feel that a clinical Pulmonary Function Lab is where the rubber hits the road and far more enjoyable for that reason. I feel fortunate that I’ve always worked in teaching hospitals with physicians that were interested in education. I’ve learned a bit about teaching and have taught numerous students, technicians and physicians about Pulmonary Function and Cardiopulmonary Exercise testing. The most important thing I’ve learned however, is that there is always something new to learn.
I am primarily a technologist. For that reason my interest starts with the tests and the test equipment, but the reality is that you can’t consider these things in isolation. What’s also important is the physiology and anatomy of what the tests are supposed to be measuring; how you decide what’s normal and what’s abnormal; how the information is stored and reported; what purpose the tests have for the patient and the ordering physician; and how to run a testing facility effectively.
Because I’ve personally built test systems and programmed computers I’ve learned how hard it can be to get equipment to do what you want it to do. In order to find out how to do tests and build things I’ve had to read a lot of textbooks and research papers by authors who seemed to delight in making them obscure and hard to understand. Worst of all I’ve had to become a skeptic since I’ve known some of the researchers who bent the results to fit their preconceptions and still got published. Despite the negatives I feel fortunate that I’ve had to opportunity to do these things.
I am now semi-retired which has given me the time to work on projects that interest me, one of which is this blog. I’m presently involved in a number of PFT-related projects and I don’t have time to be bored because there are just too many interesting things to do.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
PFT Blog by Richard Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.