respiratory therapists have the responsibility to take care of patients who suffer from breathing problems. they help relieve patients who have trouble breathing due to chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma or emphysema. respiratory therapists also support patients in emergency situations such as heart attack, stroke, drowning, or shock.
how to become a respiratory therapist
the minimum educational requirement for respiratory therapists is to have an associate's degree, but employers usually prefer applicants who have acquired more education. training for respiratory therapists is offered by various colleges and universities, vocational institutes, and the armed forces. most of these training programs award associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees. they also offer clinical courses that enable therapists to acquire practical experience in treating patients, under the supervision of senior respiratory therapists.
the different courses offered in therapy programs include chemistry, pharmacology, human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, physics, and mathematics. there are other courses in the training as well, which enable students to learn about therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (cpr).
respiratory therapists need to be licensed in all states except alaska, but the licensing requirements vary according to the different states. however, the general requirement is to clear a state or professional certification exam. in order to find out specific requirements you will need to contact the health board in your state.
employers have a preference for respiratory therapists who are certified. although, certification is not mandatory, it is generally valued in the respiratory therapist profession. in order to be certified, candidates need to graduate from an accredited program and pass the certification exam. certification is usually needed to acquire the state license.
respiratory therapist job description
the following are some major tasks performed by a respiratory therapist:
provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, assistance in cpr, and external cardiac massage.
check patient's responses to therapy such as vital signs, blood chemistry changes, arterial blood gases, and consult with physicians if adverse reactions occur.
effectively operate equipment such as therapeutic gas administration apparatus, mechanical ventilators, aerosol generators, environmental control systems, and follow specific instructions of treatment.
work with physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals to assist in medical procedures and play their part in patient care.
maintain charts that have information of patient's identity and relevant therapy information.
read prescription, check arterial blood gases, and assess the patient's condition with the available information.
check and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to make sure it is working properly.
interact with patients and tell them the treatment procedures to relieve them from stress and gain cooperation.
resolve equipment problems through emergency visits.
career outlook and salary
according to o*net online, the median annual wages for respiratory therapists were around $55,000 in the year 2012. the projected job growth in this field is likely to be 20 to 28 percent between the years 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the average of all occupations. the us bureau of labor statistics states that respiratory therapists with a bachelor's degree and certification are likely to have the best job prospects.