Respiratory Therapist Basics
Respiratory therapists use their knowledge of the cardiopulmonary system to treat breathing problems. They work closely with other physicians to help a diverse population, from older people with pulmonary disease to newborns and small children with underdeveloped lungs or congenital defects. They may be called upon to treat patients in a long-term, out-patient setting in an emergency situation.
In situations other than emergencies, respiratory therapists first meet with their prospective clients to access the type and level of care they need. This may include meeting with other medical personnel and/or conducting minor examinations themselves. In these exams, the therapist may measure the patient’s breathing rate, lung capacity, and levels of various gases in the bloodstream. Based on these findings, they may recommend a round of inhaled, aerosol medications, physical therapy, and/or surgery.
Respiratory therapists also work with the families of patients with respirators, especially those who live at home; they show the families how to use and clean the machines so they work as they should.
Increasingly, respiratory therapists are being called upon to treat and counsel people with breathing conditions that are secondary to other medical issues, such as sleep apnea, or caused by lifestyle choice, such as emphysema caused by smoking. In these kinds of situations, the respiratory therapist suggests to his patient the lifestyle changes that may make breathing easier and more comfortable.
How to Get a Respiratory Therapy Degree
The minimum requirement to become a respiratory therapist is an Associate’s degree though a Bachelor’s degree allows for more opportunities in advanced positions. Courses taken often include anatomy, chemistry, and pharmacology. Respiratory therapists must become licensed in most states by passing an exam and many employers also require them to maintain CPR certification.
Featured School for a Respiratory Therapy Degree:
- Carrington College California – Request Information
- Virginia College, Birmingham Campus – Request Information
Compatible Personality Traits
Empathetic, people person, works well with others, good communicator, caring, multi-tasker, creative, able to follow instructions efficiently, good with technology.
Salary Expectations for a Respiratory Therapist
The average salary for respiratory therapists is $52,200 a year, with the middle fifty percent earning between $44,490 and $61,720. Those therapists with more education, training, and experience may be able to command salaries toward the higher end of the scale.
Job Outlook for a Respiratory Therapist
There should be many positions available for respiratory therapists in the coming years. With a greater portion of the population becoming older and a higher premium being put on preventative care, there will a high demand for respiratory therapy.
There will also be a growing...