Our Journeys

A Respiratory Therapist Story

Gerilynn L. Connors, BS, RRT, FAACVPR, FAARC

Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, Va.

Gerilynn Connors, BS, RRT, FAACVPR, FAARC1. How did you begin working in the field of PH?

I am a respiratory therapist and have been working in pulmonary rehabilitation for more than 25 years. I have had the privilege of working with PH patients in pulmonary rehabilitation for eight years. I worked with my first PH patient in 2003.

In 2003, our pulmonary rehabilitation program received our first referred PPH patient being worked up for lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital. At that time, there was no literature about exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation in PH patients. The only published information then was from the 1998 National PR Guidelines by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) which had a short paragraph on PPH and pulmonary rehabilitation, stating "no exercise prior to transplant, exercise after lung transplantation."

Since then, I have been fortunate to have been an editor and writer of these national guidelines and have seen the role of pulmonary rehabilitation for the PH patient gain evidence and purpose. But we still have a long way to go to show stronger evidence that pulmonary rehabilitation in PH is an adjunct therapy that can improve six-minute walk tests, activities of daily living and the patient's quality of life.

2. What is your area of expertise?

My area of expertise is clinical. I am a respiratory therapist working in pulmonary rehabilitation.

3. How long have you been active with PHA, and what PHA programs or activities have you been involved with?

My involvement with PHA began in 2007. Since 2007, I have served as a member of the PH Professional Network Practice Committee and authored articles for Pathlight and Advances in Pulmonary Hypertension. I have also served as a committee member and speaker at the PHA on the Road forums, a committee member for PHA's Insurance Program, and have presented webinars on various topics. Lastly, I've spoken at educational sessions and presented abstracts at PHA's International PH Conference and PHPN Symposium.

 

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.