Becoming a respiratory therapist


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“Becoming a Respiratory Therapist” is your guide on how to become a Respiratory Therapist. The article furnishes information pertaining to the job profile, education qualifications and other credentials associated with a Respiratory Therapist.

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Becoming a respiratory therapist

  1. 1. Becoming a Respiratory TherapistWhat’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about a career in the field ofhealthcare? Does your mind conjure up images of somber-looking doctors and nurses attendingto one medical emergency after another? Or are you discouraged by the thought of going throughyears of extensive schooling?Well, it’s time someone told you there is more to the healthcare profession than doctors andnurses. There’s a whole army of healthcare professionals who specialize in providing differentkinds of patient care. What’s more encouraging is the fact that a lot of these professions don’trequire extensive training or years of schooling.Among these lesser known medical warriors are respiratory therapists or RTs. Respiratorytherapists provide treatment, evaluation, and care to patients who are suffering from breathing orcardiopulmonary disorders.They work with physicians in the cardiopulmonary or respiratory care department of a hospital,clinic, or home health services center. Among their many duties are: 1. Diagnosing breathing disorders. 2. Recommending appropriate treatment. 3. Conducting physical examination of patients. 4. Managing ventilators and other breathing devices. 5. Educating patients and their families about breathing disorders.If you think becoming a Respiratory Therapist is your cup of tea, you need to start planning early.Maintaining good grades in biology, chemistry, physics, and math through high school could holdthe key to becoming a Respiratory Therapist.A strong foundation in these subjects will ensure that you sail smoothly through college. Althoughyou can get started with an Allied Health degree, there are direct programs that train youspecifically for a career in Respiratory Therapy and may be a good choice for interestedcandidates.Two-year training programs leading to an Associate’s degree in Respiratory Therapy are offeredby community colleges, career schools, hospitals, and the armed forces. An Associate’s degreecomprises both classroom instruction as well as clinical training. In fact, clinical training is a veryimportant component of any Respiratory Therapy program as it allows students to work in real lifesituations in a healthcare environment.Although entry-level jobs can be attained with an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree inRespiratory Care indicates a higher level of expertise and may be necessary for professionalgrowth as well as for accessing roles with greater complexity. A Bachelor’s in Respiratory Careprogram also comprises courses in management and non-clinical aspects of healthcare.Some of the topics you can expect to learn en route to becoming a Respiratory Therapist areCardiopulmonary Pharmacology, Pulmonary Anatomy & Physiology, Airway Management,Microbiology & Decontamination, Respiratory Care Protocols, Mechanical VentilationManagement, etc. Respiratory Therapists require a license from the National Board forRespiratory Care (NBRC) to practice in all U.S. states except Alaska and Hawaii. The boardoffers two types of credentials:Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT): This license is offered to RTs who graduate fromaccredited entry-level or advanced programs and also pass a licensure examination.
  2. 2. Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT): This license is offered to CRTs who graduate from anadvanced accredited program and pass two separate examinations. RTs who desire supervisorypositions require an RRT.In addition to these NBRC-conferred licenses, all practicing respiratory therapists need to obtainand maintain a certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (or CPR). Once you have thedesired qualifications and necessary licensure, you can explore employment possibilities in awide range of healthcare settings.