A Day in the Life: A Look Into the Role of a Respiratory Therapist

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

In the U.S., there are about 134,000 respiratory therapists who earn an average of around $60,000 per year. Are you thinking of becoming a respiratory therapist? You’re considering a great career!

Are you wondering what the role of a respiratory therapist is? Keep reading for a look into the world of respiratory therapy.

What Is Respiratory Therapy?

Respiratory therapy is the practical application of scientific knowledge in treating difficult or abnormal breathing conditions. Some examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Premature infant lung problems

Patients with these conditions have trouble breathing sometimes or on a daily basis. Respiratory therapy helps these patients breathe better.

A respiratory therapist is a person who helps create and apply a patient’s treatment plan.

Becoming a Respiratory Therapist

How do you become a respiratory therapist? You’ll need at least an associate’s degree. Make sure you attend a school with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

The programs aren’t easy but there’s help for respiratory therapy students out there. You’ll take classes in chemistry, physics, and microbiology. You’ll also take anatomy and physiology and more.

You’ll learn the practical applications of your in-class studies during clinical classes. You’ll need a license to work in all states except Alaska.

The Role of a Respiratory Therapist

The first thing a respiratory therapist does is interview the patient. She then consults with the physician about a treatment plan. An interview often includes diagnostic testing, such as a lung capacity test.

There are many methods of treatment including aerosols, oral medications, and physical therapy. The respiratory therapist often works in conjunction with other medical professionals.

Where Do Respiratory Therapists Work?

Most respiratory therapists work in a hospital environment. It’s also possible to work in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Some therapists even travel to patient homes.

The job often means standing long hours on your feet. Sometimes you’ll lift and move mobility-challenged patients.

Most therapists work full-time. Shifts vary since hospitals are open 24/7.

Respiratory Therapist Personality Traits

Are you interested in becoming a respiratory therapist? Certain personality traits are a plus. What are they?

Most respiratory therapists are good problem solvers. They have an interest in working with tools.

A curious nature is another common trait for respiratory therapists. Most are detail-oriented.

The job demands lots of interaction with medical professionals as well as patients. Good interpersonal skills are a must.

You’ll provide your patients with emotional support so compassion is key. Patience and a desire to help are other common traits of respiratory therapists.

Are You Ready for the Life of a Respiratory Therapist?

The role of a respiratory therapist is satisfying and fulfilling. You’ll get to help others breathe easier on a day-to-day basis. Some days, you’ll even save a life!

You’ll interview patients, decide on treatment plans with the doctor, and administer treatments. You’ll work with patients, medical professionals, and families. Enjoy a satisfying career in a growing profession.

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