Have you ever seen someone having an asthma attack? It's not a fun thing to witness. Luckily, there are respiratory therapists who treat people who have chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. If you are interested in aiding people who struggle to breathe, this job could be for you.As a respiratory therapist, you will interview patients about the breathing issues they are having and collaborate with physicians to create a treatment plan. By performing diagnostic tests such as measuring lung capacity, you will determine what medications or therapy you should give your patient. For example, if the patient is suffering from asthma attacks, you might prescribe them an inhaler, which is an aerosol medication they can take to open up constricted airways. You will also teach them how and when to use the inhaler properly.In a different case, you may meet a patient who suffers from cystic fibrosis-an inherited disease in which thick, sticky mucus can build up in the lungs and obstruct airways. To help them clear their lungs, you will perform physiotherapy by tapping their chest and encouraging him or her to cough.Once you've begun working with a patient, you will have follow up appointments to monitor and record their progress. This process is important because it will show you if the care you have given them is working, and if it's not, you can set up an alternative plan. With compassion and patience, you can help your patient's breath a little easier.
Salaries and Job Outlook*
Education and Training
If you want to become a respiratory therapist, you must complete your degree. Many people find that having an associate's degree works fine, but some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree. You can find accredited programs at a local community college, vocational school, or university.These programs include courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and mathematics. Other courses teach you about therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Furthermore, all programs have clinical components that allow you to earn course credit and gain supervised, practical experience treating patients.In addition to your degree, many employers prefer to hire respiratory therapists who have certification. Certification is not always required, but it is widely respected throughout the occupation and requires you to pass a certification exam. Moreover, respiratory therapists are required to be licensed in all states except Alaska. In most states, you are required to complete a state or professional certification exam. You can contact the state's health board to discover your state's specific requirements.
Valued Traits & Abilities
As a respiratory therapist, you will work full time at a medical facility, such as a hospital. Your hours will vary, depending on where you decide to work. For example, if you become employed at a 24 hour emergency room, you could be working day, evening, and weekend shifts.This job keeps you on your feet for long periods of time so it is helpful to wear supportive shoes. Many therapists choose to wear running shoes to keep their feet comfortable during long shifts.