Respiratory therapists are trained professionals who provide care for patients with breathing problems or other lung-related conditions. They assess the condition of the patient, conduct tests on them to determine their level of distress and then devise an appropriate treatment plan.
The first step towards becoming a respiratory therapist is to complete respiratory therapy courses which teach you about anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and more so you can understand your patients’ conditions better.
What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?
Respiratory therapists are healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory problems. They assess, diagnose, and treat patients with various types of breathing difficulties such as asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and bronchitis. Respiratory therapists also provide emergency care for those suffering from shock or heart attack related to a lack of oxygenation. They also perform post-operation care, monitor for respiratory complications after surgery, and provide assistance in the event of an emergency.
The main goal of respiratory therapists is to help their patients breathe more easily by providing treatments with instruments such as inhalers, oxygen tanks, nebulizers and ventilators. They may also teach patients how to use these devices.
How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make?
The average salary for a respiratory therapist is about $58,300 per year. A respiratory therapist can expect to make $31.22 per hour. This average is just an average, though. Respiratory therapists in different industries or with more experience may find themselves on the higher end of the salary scale, while those who are new to the field will generally find themselves on the lower end of it.
Due to the fact that there are different job settings for respiratory therapists, their salaries may vary greatly depending on the place they work. Respiratory therapy students who focus on particular fields such as pediatrics, neonatology, critical care and emergency medicine often find it easier to obtain higher-paying jobs because of their concentration.
Why Become a Respiratory Therapist?
If you enjoy working with people and want to help them improve their overall health, respiratory therapy might be a career path for you. Because most patients suffering from respiratory problems are unable to treat themselves, they depend on therapists to come up with personalized treatment plans that will optimize their breathing abilities.
Respiratory therapy does not require extensive post-graduate training so you can enter the workforce quickly. And since this profession works independently and provides treatments that benefit patients both during and after their stay in the hospital, it is a very rewarding line of work.
What are a Respiratory Therapists Job Responsibilities?
Respiratory therapists typically work for hospitals, nursing care facilities, and home care services. They also provide emergency assistance to those suffering from respiratory distress before medical help arrives at the scene.
Since respiratory therapy is a specialized area of medicine, therapists may also be required to do research and participate in studies to advance the field.
Other responsibilities include:
- Assess a patient’s condition and gather essential health history information
- Diagnose the severity of a patient’s condition
- Monitor patient status using diagnostic equipment
- Administer treatments such as medications or chest physiotherapy for relief of acute symptoms
- Educate patients and their families on proper use of medical equipment
- Collaborate with physicians to design an effective treatment plan that meets the patient’s needs
What Degree Does a Respiratory Therapist Need?
Respiratory therapists need to have an associate degree from an accredited program that prepares them for this career. The coursework includes anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical terminology and ethics. Students also learn how to use equipment such as ventilators and nebulizer treatments.
Respiratory therapy courses are very intensive so you should plan on spending at least two years studying before graduating from the program. You can find respiratory therapy courses online or at your local community college or university if they offer these types of programs near you.
A bachelor’s degree is not necessary, although it will help respiratory therapists with advancement and higher salaries.
What is the Job Outlook for a Respiratory Therapist
The job outlook is projected to grow by 17% between now and 2026. There are currently about 57,300 jobs available for this profession nationwide.
Tens of thousands of people in the United States alone are diagnosed with respiratory conditions each year, and many more cases go undiagnosed. These diseases often require long-term treatment and nursing care. And because respiratory therapy is such a specialized field, there’s always an ongoing need for skilled professionals to fill vacancies when they occur. As a result, people who pursue this career have one of the most promising job outlooks available today.