A respiratory therapist must treat patients that have a breathing problem or cardiopulmonary issues. The respiratory therapist must work under the supervision of a physician. This professional is responsible for the primary care of treatments and all diagnostic procedures. This includes supervising respiratory technicians. They must work with other health care personnel to adjust treatment plans for the patient. In addition, the respiratory therapist must be comfortable with making difficult decisions; oftentimes, this professional must treat patients that are on life support equipment.
Working as a respiratory therapist requires certification and the completion of a degree program. Check out the schools below which offer free information:
Respiratory Therapist Job Responsibilities
Also, the respiratory therapist must work with patients of all ages. The therapist must treat premature infants and elderly patients with breathing problems. The infant may have breathing problems due to lungs that are not fully developed. They also help people with breathing problems due to asthma or emphysema. Furthermore, the therapist provides emergency treatments to people that have experienced a stroke, heart attack, or some other life threatening emergency situation. The first step is stabilizing the patient. Then, the respiratory therapist must examine the patient to determine what treatments will work best for the condition. There are several methods that can be used to determine the breathing capacity of a patient. Blood tests can measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Lung capacity tests can also measure the flow of oxygen to the blood and vital organs. This information is given to a doctor, and the doctor makes the final determination of the best treatment options.
For instance, one treatment method involves having the patient to inhale an oxygen mixture. An oxygen mask may have to be used to get the extra oxygen in the blood. Also, the therapist may have to connect the patient to a ventilator that delivers oxygen directly to the lungs. A breathing tube is inserted into the windpipe and the patient receives the oxygen from the ventilator in this way. The respiratory therapist must constantly measure the amount of oxygen the person is receiving. Any problems may demand that the oxygen levels be adjusted.
Respiratory Therapist Training and Education Requirements
A respiratory therapist must have at least an associate degree to practice this medical career. All states excluding Alaska and Hawaii require respiratory therapists to be licensed. Advancement opportunities may be more available to those that have bachelor’s and master’s degrees. A person can be trained in respiratory therapy at colleges, universities, vocational schools, and the military. The therapist can receive either an associate, bachelor, or master’s degree in the discipline. This education prepares them for advanced careers in respiratory therapy.
Furthermore, during the training program, students will learn about many health related courses. Complete knowledge of human anatomy, medical terminology, physiology, pharmacology, and chemistry are required to finish the degree program. It is important to have a firm grasp of mathematical concepts, physical, and chemical principles. Mathematical knowledge is necessary to compute drug dosages and gas concentrations for the patient.
When a respiratory therapist focuses on critically ill patients, the position is considered more advanced. These respiratory therapists tend to specialize in these areas. There is also room for advancement to a managerial or supervisory position in a hospital respiratory department. There are also opportunities to teach, work in home health care, or work with a pharmaceutical company in research. The possibilities are many in this profession.
In conclusion, the respiratory therapist must be emotionally stable and able to think independently. Life and death decisions have to be made for respiratory care for patients. The successful respiratory therapist must be able to make quick and sound decisions. This professional must be able to communicate with physicians and other health personnel. The ability to work in a team oriented environment is a definite necessity in the health care field.
Respiratory Therapist Salary and Wages
The 2008 wage survey of respiratory therapists indicate that the median salary is $52,000 per year. The middle group earned between $44,000 and $61,000 annually. Only the bottom 10% earned $37,000 or less. Top earners brought in $69,000 per year or more per year. There are other opportunities for advancement based on experience, certifications, and education. Many respiratory therapist that choose to specialize tend to make greater than $69,000. Those that supervise an entire respiratory therapy department can make six figure salaries. The potential for lucrative financial compensation is great in this profession.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Respiratory Therapist Certifications
Every state excluding Alaska and Hawaii require respiratory therapists to have a license. In addition, most employers require the respiratory therapist to have a valid CPR certification. Certification is based on meeting the standards established by the National Board for Respiratory Care. The professional can earn the credential of Certified Respiratory Therapist from this organization. The Registered Respiratory Therapist credential is granted to those who have completed more advanced certification requirements.
Respiratory Therapist Professional Associations
There are several professional associations for respiratory care. The American Association for Respiratory Care provides an environment for respiratory therapy professionals to grow and continue learning. In addition, this organization gives a voice to the professionals in respiratory therapy. The National Board for Respiratory Care issues credentials to those in respiratory therapy that meet established credentials.