What does a Respiratory Therapist do?
A respiratory therapist cares for patients of all ages from newborn to the aged that have breathing problems. They help those that have ranges of respiratory difficulties such as emphysema, asthma, or cystic fibrosis. They even assist in emergency situations for heart attack victims, drowning, or shock.
Some respiratory therapists identify and treat patients with sleep apnea and are trained to use equipment like ventilators and oxygen tanks or other devices that would be needed to help a patient with their breathing problems.
How to become a Respiratory Therapist
An associate's degree with courses in chemistry, human anatomy, physics, physiology, math, microbiology, and pharmacology is needed to become a respiratory therapist. However, those holding a bachelor's degree have the highest advantage for employment.
He or she would also require courses that train them in patient assessment, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures or tests, as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Therapists also gain hands-on training and practical experience under a supervised professional.
A respiratory therapist must be licensed in every state with the exception of Alaska. One can obtain this educational program through vocational or technical institutes that are accredited, as well as colleges and universities.
The military is another avenue to secure this education that would be approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. It would be advantageous for a high school student that is interested in this occupation to take classes in math, biology, physics, health, and chemistry.
Job Description of a Respiratory Therapist
Because a respiratory therapist cares for those with breathing difficulties that range from infants to the elderly they must perform a variety of duties. Some examples of these breathing problems are cynic fibrosis, pneumonia, emphysema, or asthma. Therefore, a respiratory therapist must be able to treat a variety of issues.
He or she must examine and interview patients as well as perform diagnostic tests that measures the flow and volume of oxygen when inhaling and exhaling. The therapist tests oxygen and carbon dioxide levels with a blood gas analyzer. He or she needs to gather blood samples. They need to consult with other physicians and monitor a patient's progress.
Respiratory therapists also work in emergency rooms with those experiencing possible heart attacks, shock, or drowning. They can be found assisting patients with sleep apnea or helping in home care teaching families or individuals to use life-support systems or oxygen. This requires that he or she inspects or cleans equipment and go over any medication requirements to be sure the person or family understands how to properly use them.
A respiratory therapist will also need to inspect the home environment for any possible hazards. They should be compassionate, detail-oriented, and have interpersonal skills. Skills in math, science, and problem solving are needed as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics project a 12 percent growth in 2014 -2024 in this career field which is faster than average for all occupations.