Interview with Paola Pierucci, new Chair of ELF Professional Advisory Committee

Paola Pierucci, is a respiratory specialist consultant at the Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Policlinico and the new Chair of the ELF Professional Advisory Committee (PrAC).   

Here we get to meet Paola and find out what her plans are as PrAC Chair over the next three years.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am a mum, a non-respiratory disease patient, and a respiratory physician.

My main focus in clinic and in research is acute and chronic respiratory failure, non-invasive ventilation (NIV), and neuromuscular diseases. I have studied and worked in Italy, USA and Australia. I am now based in Italy and as a member of the European Respiratory Society (ERS). I am involved in many activities including research and clinical projects. I work in one of the largest teaching hospitals in South Italy, and I am always surrounded by young physicians and fellows in training. Their enthusiasm creates an enjoyable learning environment of constant communication that allows me to grow and to learn.  

What made you decide to apply for the role of ELF PrAC Chair? 

When I read the application for the ELF PrAC Chair, my eyes focused on the word “communication”. I felt excited and empowered by the opportunity this role provides to improve communication between patients and the respiratory physicians looking after them. This is very important and is unfortunately not always easy to do in the small time of the clinical consultation.   

What are you most looking forward to in the role?

I am looking forward to getting to know more about the respiratory patients’ point of view, and by doing this, I will improve as a specialist as well.

What would you like to achieve in your time as PrAC Chair?

There is a lot of unreliable health related information, especially online. As PrAC Chair, I would first like to offer to always provide professional guidance in producing and finding the correct source for lung health information.

Second, I would like to coordinate the writing and advertising of reliable, complete and easy-to-understand messages, to raise the awareness in the general community that lung diseases are very important.

Lastly, it would be my priority to increase the visibility of ELF within the young community of people.

Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?

I am a patient myself; I have a disease that I was born with, so I know exactly how it feels. Many times in my life, I have had to take off my white coat and cross the bridge and to switch my point of view. It was hard, sometimes frustrating, but I am grateful for the experience because it helped me to not take myself too seriously. I have learnt to become more understanding and to carefully look behind the disease, to others factors in a more well-rounded approach. For instance, I learned to check more frequently my patients’ pain tolerance, to ask about their quality of life, and most importantly to make them laugh a lot!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you again for this great opportunity!