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Respiratory Therapy Careers Degree Programs

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Breathe New Life Into Your Career As A Respiratory Therapist

respiratory therapist training

Most of us take breathing for granted, but not everyone is that fortunate. Premature birth, certain accidents, illnesses, or diseases can turn the simple act of breathing into a life or death struggle.

People who need assistance to breathe rely on the knowledge and skill of Respiratory Therapy professionals to assist in the diagnosis, treatment, evaluation, and management of their respiratory problems, either on an emergency basis or on a long term basis. Respiratory therapists treat all types of patients, ranging from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people with lung disease. They provide temporary relief to patients with chronic asthma or emphysema, as well as emergency care to patients who are victims of a heart attack, stroke, drowning or shock.

Practicing under the direction of a physician, respiratory therapists assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care therapeutic treatments and diagnostic procedures, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians.

Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, serving as integral members of the health care team, are vital members of cardiac arrest teams, and deliver respiratory care in home health settings as well. Regardless of the setting, many people are able to breathe easier thanks to the expertise of Respiratory Therapists.

A Job Outlook This Good Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

Employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow 19 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing demand will come from substantial growth in the middle-aged and elderly population—a development that will heighten the incidence of cardiopulmonary disease. Growth in demand also will result from the expanding role of respiratory therapists in case management, disease prevention, emergency care, and the early detection of pulmonary disorders. BY 2012 an additional 39,200 Respiratory Therapists will be needed in the U.S. , and according to the 2005 Human Resources study from the AARC, the projected average annual earnings of RTs working in the U.S. is $56,222.

Respiratory Therapist careers require an associate`s degree from an accredited respiratory therapy program and state license at minimum. Earning a Bachelor`s or Master`s degree provides Respiratory Therapists additional opportunities for career advancement such as becoming an RRT - (Registered Respiratory Therapist), or transitioning into department management, and even owning their own respiratory home care companies to provide equipment and clinical services.

What Do Respiratory Therapists Typically Do?

Respiratory Therapists provide direct patient care treatment that ranges from providing emergency relief for acute conditions such as asthma or near drowning, to providing long term care for patients with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cardio-pulomonary diseases, or emphysema. As a Respiratory Therapist you will assess patients, perform physical exams, conduct diagnostic tests such as measuring lung capacity, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and Ph levels, and provide complex therapy that require substantial independent judgment such as caring for patients on ventilators. RT`s collaborate with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals to develop, modify, and evaluate patient care plans.

  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, and aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.
  • Provide emergency care, including artificial respiration, external cardiac massage and assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, and medication and dosages, compatible with physicians` orders.
  • Monitor patient`s physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, and blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to manage patient care.
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians` orders.
  • Maintain charts that contain patients` pertinent identification and therapy information.
  • Inspect, clean, test and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises and the use of medications and respiratory equipment.

Respiratory Therapy is a versatile career offering plentiful opportunities for work in neonatal intensive care, pediatrics, adult intensive care units, pulmonary function labs, pulmonary rehab, and providing home care. As a Respiratory Therapist, you can breathe easier knowing you have a career you can count on to make a real difference in people`s lives!


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