Respiratory Therapist

What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?
Respiratory therapists play an important role in health care, assisting patients who suffer from breathing issues. They work with a myriad of patients and cases, from premature infants who cannot breathe due to lung developmental problems to patients afflicted with severe lung diseases that make breathing difficult. Respiratory therapists are often responsible for the entirety of respiratory treatments, managing respiratory therapy technicians and creating treatment plans. They work
with physicians to develop care plans for the patient, but most of the work is dependent on the therapist’s knowledge and judgment alone. The position is one of great responsibility, as respiratory therapists are the experts of respiratory health and have the duty of making important decisions in sensitive cases, such as those involving patients on life support or intensive care. They use specialized diagnostic tests to analyze patient toxicity and blood oxygen levels, which often helps determine what type of respiratory therapy needs to be administered.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Respiratory Therapist?
Health care is one of the most prosperous and stable fields in the job industry today. This is due to the fact that no matter what the economic climate is or what political issues are being debated, the need for health care professionals remains. The complexity of human health, the inevitability of aging, and the unpredictability of injury and disease all contribute to health care’s longevity. This is true in all aspects of health care, including respiratory health. In fact, the employment outlook for respiratory therapists is a positive one. The field is growing as advances in medical technology allow for more conditions to be treated and for more people to reach their elderly years. There are about 100,000 respiratory therapists in the country, working with various patients in hospitals, clinics, physicianís offices, and other health care settings, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care. The large increase in the elderly population and unfortunate rise in cases of asthma are two big factors in the growing need for more respiratory therapists. Employment opportunities for the therapists are expected to rise 21 percent by 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Respiratory therapists earn an average salary of $52,200 annually, according to the most current information available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Respiratory Therapist?
Aspiring respiratory therapists must first earn at least an associate degree in respiratory therapy. This degree typically takes about two years to earn, during which time students take courses in anatomy, therapeutic procedures, respiratory health, and other classes designed to increase the student’s understanding of all the different aspects in respiratory health. As respiratory health is crucial to a patient’s well-being, respiratory therapists must also undergo a strict licensing regime. All states, except for Alaska and Hawaii, require that respiratory therapists be licensed before practicing professionally. Most of the licensing is carried out by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Different types of licensures are available as well, depending on educational level and whether or not the respiratory therapist has successfully passed a standard examination. Many employers also require that the respiratory therapists they hire be proficient in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR.