A champion of respiratory health

Published on February 22, 2022

Dallas Schroeder received the Distinguished Alumni Award for more than four decades of contributions to advancing the field of respiratory therapy in Alberta 

Dallas Schroeder’s retirement in fall 2020 lasted about a week and a half. 

After earning her diploma in Respiratory Therapy at NAIT in 1980, she would spend most of the next four decades contributing to the advancement of the discipline. 

“At the time, respiratory therapy was a growing, emerging field,” says Dallas of the early stages of her career. 

Though always important, it has taken a central role today in battling respiratory complications and distress brought on by COVID-19. 

That battle has brought Dallas back to the practice in a way that makes use of her unique insight and knowledge during a trying time – as a member of the University of Alberta Hospital site command post, assisting and supporting provincial COVID-19 response activities. 

A rapidly changing field 

Dallas has seen many changes in respiratory therapy since her start in the field, when she was almost immediately placed on the front lines.  

“Early in my career, probably a year or two in, a team lead position became available in intensive care,” she says. “Even though I was a young RT, they saw something in me and gave me the opportunity.” 

Later, Dallas moved into management, first of the respiratory therapy department at the University of Alberta Hospital, then intensive care, where she stayed for 10 years. Before her brief retirement, she accepted a secondment as executive director. 

“The biggest change in our field has been related to our scope of practice and the equipment and the technology we typically worked with,” Dallas says. “Everything is going electronic.” 

Formerly mechanical ventilators are now computerized with sophisticated monitoring systems. Various non-invasive devices are used to help anticipate patient issues before they become problems. 

“The trend now is towards non-invasive ventilation, whenever possible,” Dallas adds. 

Shaping the future as best she can 

Dallas points out that her career was influenced, and improved, by many people. Without the support of mentors, colleagues and her two children and husband, Dave “he put up with a lot of long hours,” she says, kindly she’d not have seen so much success and enjoyment. 

That’s one of the reasons she has felt compelled to give back to the industry in whatever ways she can. 

Over the years, Dallas has brought all her experiences to bear in helping to ensure that there are plenty of skilled grads ready to meet current and future demands. In addition to returning to serve in the battle against COVID-19, she has previously provided insight at NAIT as a past, long-time member of the Respiratory Therapy advisory committee, which exists to help shape the program. 

No doubt, her passion for the field that gave her a career will rub off. 

“I loved the challenge and intensity of intensive care,” says Dallas. “I loved being able to treat someone who was critically ill and help them recover, to be able to go home.” 

The love for her work hasn’t faded. It’s helping to push her on in her role today. 

Right now I am not sure how long I will continue before retiring again,” says Dallas. “With each wave of the pandemic, help is needed and I have stayed on.  At this point, [retirement] is a moving target. I have just been happy to do my part.” 

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dallas received the Distinguished Alumni Award for more than four decades of contributions to advancing the field of respiratory therapy in Alberta. This lifetime achievement award recognizes individuals renowned for their leadership roles, industry expertise and merit.