One of the fastest growing medical careers is respiratory therapy. The
field of respiratory care is fairly young. It was started in the early
1950′s when therapists were called "Inhalation Therapists." Back then,
their main job was providing oxygen to patients in the hospital. This
field has evolved to now include performing echocardiography and
What are Respiratory Therapists?
Respiratory therapists work alongside physicians to diagnose and treat patients with respiratory and cardiovascular systems disorders. They are trained to act as technical resource persons for both physicians and other health care professionals.
What Respiratory Therapists Do
A person can live without food for a few weeks and without water for few days. But if you are deprived of air, you will die within minutes or have irreparable damage to the brain and heart. In terms of survival, breathing is essential. Following is a partial list of the procedures and treatment a future respiratory therapist may handle:
- Draw and analyze blood samples to determine the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in a patient
- Perform stress tests and other studies of the cardiopulmonary system
- Read and analyze chest x-rays and electrocardiograms
- Operate and maintain various types of highly sophisticated equipment to administer oxygen or to assist with breathing
- Administer medications in aerosol form
- Monitor equipment and patient response to therapy
Training To Be A Respiratory Therapist
The practice of respiratory care requires extensive knowledge of many technical and physiological concepts. Respiratory therapists are trained to perform and evaluate the results of diagnostic tests such as arterial blood gases and pulmonary function studies. The maintenance of mechanical ventilation for critically ill patients is a major task the therapist is expected to perform.
Training to become a respiratory therapist can be earned through a 2-year associate degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree program. Check your local schools for program admission and graduation requirements. Please check your local accreditation board as most regions require respiratory therapists to be licensed.
Are You Cut Out To Be A Respiratory Therapist?
But with all the medical careers out there, how can you know which one is right for you? If these descriptions fit you, respiratory therapy could be a great fit:
- I really enjoy helping people who are facing a crisis
- I like working with technology
- I’m good in math and science
- I’m looking for a career with multiple opportunities for growth and advancement
Employment For Respiratory Therapists
Respiratory care is one of the most exciting medical careers with a high number of job opportunities in USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan and other countries around the world.
Some of the places you will find respiratory therapists include intensive care units and in emergency rooms. They can also be found in newborn and pediatric units, operating rooms and in skilled nursing facilities and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.
Growth Potential For Respiratory Therapists
The demand for medical professionals has never been higher, so job stability is excellent. And with demand for respiratory therapists on the rise, salaries are following suit! Salaries will range for every region but in the US the median yearly salary is $56,000.
Continued growth in biomedical technology ensures the field will never get dull. And we all know what happens to wages when demand exceeds supply. Those who excel on the job have no problem climbing the career ladder to staff therapist, shift supervisor and to department manager. Some respiratory therapists have even ascended to the highest levels of hospital administration!
Making the choice to pursue a medical career is an important decision for you and the patients you will come into contact throughout your career. Hopefully the information contained within this article gives you a broader view of all of the opportunities in the respiratory therapist field.
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