Become a Respiratory Therapist (RT)

Respiratory Therapy involves evaluating, treating, and caring for patients that suffer from breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders. The patients consist of all ages and backgrounds, from premature infants to the elderly with diseased lungs. Patients suffering from chronic lung ailments like asthma or emphysema, or people in need of emergency care, like shock victims, stroke, drowning, or heart attack victims, all have need of a good respiratory therapist. Their RT will work closely with their physicians and be responsible for diagnosing and giving therapeutic treatment to patients, as well as supervising the respiratory technicians. The RTs will be required to give and develop care plans that are personalized for their patients. They also will give them complex therapeutic procedures. A lot of patients needing these services are critical and in intensive care, and some are on life support.

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A Respiratory Therapist will conduct diagnostic tests and evaluate their patients. They also perform physical exams and monitor and assess the patients progress. Lots of therapists offer home health care services to those using life support systems and are on ventilators. It’s the RT’s responsibility to maintain all the equipment to ensure it functions properly. An RT is trained in chest Physiotherapy for assisting patients with making breathing easier. They are employed in hospitals and often times expand their roles to include services like disease prevention, case management, pulmonary rehabilitation, and smoking counseling to help them quit. They are much needed members of the critical care teams found in the armed forces and in our hospitals.

If you can follow instructions easily, and can pay attention to details, along with being proficient with computers and a team player, then you might want to consider being a respiratory therapist. Your degree for respiratory therapy will require you to take courses in math, biology, chemistry, health, and physics while in high school. You also will have to get at least an associates degree in this field, but the bachelors degree is more preferable. Today many colleges are offering both on-campus and the online Respiratory Therapy degrees. Online courses have a curriculum that includes anatomy, math, microbiology, pathophysiology, physics, and chemistry. Other courses will offer diagnostic training and therapeutic procedures training and testing, patient assessment, equipment maintenance, respiratory health promotion, home care dealing with patients going through pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation, and disease prevention.

Most all states will require a therapist to get a license before they practice. If they meet all requirements then they can sit for 2 certifications – the ‘Registered Respiratory Therapist’, or RRT, and the ‘Certified Respiratory Therapist’, the CRT. Once they pass the CRT examination they qualify as respiratory therapists in most states. Many doctors and hospitals will also need them to complete a certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. If you plan to try your hand at a career involved with intensive care, or one of a supervisory position, then an RRT certification will be very useful.