Sitting on the BTS Council: Rebecca D'Cruz on being the Under 35 Representative

Monday, May 8, 2023

What was it that attracted you to a career in respiratory health?

One of my early rotations as a junior doctor was in respiratory medicine, and it was this job that inspired me to pursue a Respiratory career path. The hospital served a deprived area with many varied migrant populations, who typically presented acutely unwell, late in their disease course. I continue to gain immense satisfaction in providing disease education, smoking cessation support and pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to vulnerable populations in society, who may be exposed to high levels of air pollution and who may struggle to access healthcare. Additionally, I have been lucky throughout my career to work with enthusiastic, supportive and inspiring clinical and academic colleagues. I think Respiratory is a particularly multi-disciplinary specialty, and I am constantly learning from my expert physiotherapy, speech & language, dietetic, nursing and medical colleagues about how best to support patients in the acute and stable settings.

Last year you joined the BTS Council as the under 35 representative. What is it about this role that appeals to you, and why is this specific role important?

It was an unexpected honour to be invited onto the BTS Council. I have gained an insight into the structure and activities of the Council and their roles in overseeing Society activities, reviewing statements and guidelines, responding to national developments relevant to respiratory health, particularly relating to pollution and tobacco control, and devising and promoting strategies to improve respiratory health and funding for respiratory research.

 What does your position on Council typically involve – what does it mean to be a BTS Council member?

We have Council meetings which are hybrid face-to-face and in-person, which I appreciate as clinical commitments can make it hard to physically attend meetings, although this is always my preference. I have really enjoyed meeting other Early Career Members, and learning about their clinical and academic experiences in other parts of the country, and continue to be awestruck when I meet my Respiratory Idols. This networking has enabled me to extend my professional network and create opportunities for collaborative learning in both the clinical and academic settings. I have also been able to discuss my interests and research and put myself forward for BTS activities, which has helped create opportunities for clinical and academic collaborations. Being on the Science and Research Committee has helped me keep abreast of current developments in my areas of interest, and has given me the opportunity to engage with clinicians and scientists who will be delivering some really exciting symposia at the Winter Meeting.

In your experience, what sort of skills do you need to have as a member of the BTS Council?

I think an eagerness to get stuck in and learn from colleagues is key. Meeting such experienced BTS members has been humbling, and I continue to learn more and more about national perspectives on respiratory health and the benefits of collaboration across sub-specialities. I was initially apprehensive about offering my opinions at meetings, given the expertise in the room. However, everyone at Team BTS is so friendly and approachable that I have improved my comfort and confidence in contributing.

 Is there anything you would like to say to other colleagues who are considering joining or taking up a role with BTS?

I would really recommend putting yourself forward for any of the many opportunities BTS has to offer. Sitting on the Council is valuable to understand how the Society functions and develops strategies to promote and respiratory health. Being on the Science and Research Committee is great fun, and I really enjoy discussing emerging research and planning the Winter Meeting. The reasons I love working in Respiratory hold true of BTS – meeting clinicians and scientists from a range of backgrounds who have aligned perspectives on promoting respiratory health is really stimulating and educational.