Respiratory therapists are charged with helping children and adults deal with all kinds of respiratory ailments and conditions.
While this can be a job that is stressful at times, it is also intensely rewarding to be able to directly help so many patients each day.
Get an inside look at what respiratory therapists do, where they work and how they prepare for their careers in order to decide whether this job is right for you and your future.
The Daily Tasks of a Respiratory Therapist
The primary task of nearly all respiratory therapists is to meet with patients and help them diagnose, address or treat their breathing problems. Respiratory therapists might start by examining patients, asking questions about their medical history and performing diagnostic tests to determine things like lung capacity.
After diagnosing the problem, respiratory therapists might prescribe medications, offer lifestyle advice, remove mucus from the lungs, install ventilators or try chest physiotherapy. In the cases of young patients or even newborns without developed lungs, respiratory therapists work with doctors, surgeons and parents of the patient in order to create a pathway to better breathing.
Where Respiratory Therapists Typically Work
The majority of the 120,000 respiratory therapists working in the United States are employed in hospitals. This allows them to be available during labor and delivery as well as if respiratory complications occur during, before or after surgery.
Those who work in hospitals might have shifts that occur on weekends or overnight. Other respiratory therapists own or work at private medical practices, where standard office hours are more common. It is also possible for respiratory therapists to work in nursing homes or even travel to the homes of their patients.
How to Become a Respiratory Therapist
Many people interested in a career in the medical field are discouraged by the idea of going to college for seven years or more. However, it is important to note that not all medical careers require such extensive study. To become a respiratory therapist, a position that can earn an average salary of $55,000 each year, you only need to have an associate degree.
Earning an associate degree in respiratory therapy takes just two years to complete, and it will usually focus on subjects like biology and diagnostic procedures. After earning your degree, which can be done online through an accredited college, you will need to register as a respiratory therapist in your state in order to secure employment.
Attributes of a Successful Respiratory Therapist
Like many patient-focused positions in medicine, respiratory therapists should be compassionate and patient individuals who are willing to let people speak and be heard. You should also be a great communicator, both with other medical professionals who need information quickly and patients or parents who want to fully understand their situation and how to recover quickly.
Respiratory therapists are important members of the medical field. Discover your opportunities to earn your degree online in many healthcare areas.