Respiratory Therapy Career Overview


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The article ‘Respiratory Therapy Career Overview’ discusses the role of Respiratory therapists in the healthcare environment. It discusses the various options available with a respiratory therapy degree. It also gives a brief about the career prospects of an RT and explains about the different certifications that add to your credentials as an RT.

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Respiratory Therapy Career Overview

  1. 1. Respiratory Therapy Career OverviewRespiratory Therapy involves the evaluation, treatment and care for patients who suffer fromcardiopulmonary and other breathing disorders. Patients are of all types, ranging from prematureinfants to the aged whose lungs are diseased. Patients who suffer from chronic lung problemssuch as emphysema and asthma or those who need emergency care such as victims of shock,drowning, stroke or heart attacks all need a respiratory therapist as part of their care team.Certified respiratory therapists (RTs) work closely with physicians and are responsible for thediagnosis and therapeutic treatment of patients as well as the supervision of respiratorytechnicians. RTs are required to provide and develop personalized care plans for patients alongwith complex therapeutic procedures. Many patients who need the services of a respiratorytherapist are critical cases in intensive care or on life support.Respiratory therapists conduct diagnostic tests, evaluate patients, perform physical examinationsand regularly assess their progress. Many therapists offer home care services to those patientswho use life support systems and ventilators. It is the responsibility of the RT to inspect andmaintain this equipment as well to ensure its proper use. RTs are also trained in chestphysiotherapy to assist patients and make breathing easier for them. Respiratory therapistsemployed in hospitals often expand their roles and include services such as disease prevention,case management, pulmonary rehabilitation and counseling to quit smoking. RTs are alsoneeded as members of critical care teams in hospitals and the armed forces.If you find it easy to follow instructions, pay attention to detail, are proficient in computers, andcan work as part of a team, you could think of respiratory therapy as a possible career option. ARespiratory Therapy degree requires courses in mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, andhealth in high school. To work as a RT, you will need a minimum of an Associate’s degree inRespiratory Therapy. However, a Bachelor’s degree is always preferable. Nowadays, mostcolleges offer both, on-campus and online Respiratory Therapy degrees. The online RespiratoryTherapy degree curriculum includes physiology, anatomy, pathophysiology, chemistry,pharmacology, physics, microbiology, and mathematics. Many courses also offer training indiagnostic and therapeutic procedures and testing, equipment maintenance, patient assessment,respiratory health promotion, disease prevention, home care for patients and cardiac andpulmonary rehabilitation.Most states require that respiratory therapists obtain a license before practicing. If you meet allthe requirements you could sit for two certifications to add to your credentials - RegisteredRespiratory Therapist (RRT) and Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). Passing the CRT examwill qualify you as a respiratory therapist in most states. Most hospitals and employers may alsoneed a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification as well. If you are planning a career inintensive-care or in a supervisory position, an RRT certification would be useful.As America ages and the incidents of cardio pulmonary diseases keep increasing, the need forrespiratory therapists increases as well. Thus, job opportunities are assured for students planninga career in respiratory therapy with hospitals still continuing to be the main employer of RTs.However, respiratory therapists can also look forward to working in home health care providers,private clinics, healthcare agencies, and educational establishments and even with respiratoryequipment manufacturers. With medical advancements and technological developments, thedemand for trained and skilled respiratory therapists is bound to show a steady growth curve inthe future.