What Do Respiratory Therapist Do?
Respiratory Therapists are medical professionals that help in the treatment of patients with breathing disorders. Your goal is to give therapy and help improve breathing function for those both in the hospital or in an outpatient setting. In certain settings, the respiratory therapist helps to supervise respiratory therapy technicians.In the upcoming years, there is a projected increase in the demand for respiratory therapists of 19%. These medical professionals play an important role in the lives of those with breathing problems with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or emphysema.
Respiratory Therapist Skills and Abilities
Quality Respiratory Therapists have a strong foundation in medicine. You need to be able to understand breathing disorders and the medications that help to treat these disorders. Your medical skills will help you to treat and motivate patients to improve their breathing function. After patients ask you questions about their disorders and the treatments, you should be able to give them clear answers that help educate them. As you will be in close contact with patients, you must have well developed interpersonal skills. Many patients are under respiratory stress, which can be painful and anxiety inducing. You will need to be able to be professional and understanding of patient needs. If you are working as a supervisor over respiratory therapist assistants, it is important that you also understand how to direct and train your staff.
Respiratory Therapist Duties
At a hospital or treatment center, you will provide assistance to doctors and nurses in prescribed respiratory therapy. You will need to understand how to setup assisted breathing devices like mechanical ventilators, nebulizers, and gas distribution devices. Patients also need assistance to maintain positioning and function of monitors that measure their blood gas levels. Respiratory Therapists get specialized training that allows them to complete lung capacity and stress tests that help to measure the breathing ability of patients. You must have a strong commitment to cleanliness, as this job will require you to maintain strict cleanliness of medical equipment. After completing therapeutic interventions, Respiratory Therapists must carefully document their patient progress and treatments on either hard copy or electronic medical records.
Respiratory Therapist Tools and Technology
The basic technological tools for respiratory therapists include respirators, nebulizers, and gas detection devices. Nebulizers are small respiratory devices that include a unit that aerosolizes medicine or saline and sends it to a mask that fits over a patient’s mouth and nose. These units are small and can be obtained for home use. Blood gas monitors help to detect the amount of oxygen in the blood. These units include a sensor that fits over the patient’s artery and an output device that tells the percent saturation of oxygen in the blood. Lastly, spirometers are devices used to characterize the level of lung function.
Education and Training for Respiratory Therapists
The typical education for Respiratory Therapists is an associate’s degree in respiratory care therapy. The training will be specific and will help you to pass a licensing exam. The best programs will combine good education with on-the-job training.
Respiratory Therapist Salary
The median salary for Respiratory Therapists is about $56,000. The bottom 10% of Respiratory Therapists make around $41,000 while the highest 90% make above $78,000 annually. Additional training and experience help to increase your income. If you have enough experience and the qualifications for management, you will also have opportunities to make a greater salary.
Respiratory Therapist Jobs by Geography
Respiratory therapy jobs are more prevalent in states that have a large amount of hospitals. Some of the greatest number of Respiratory Therapists work in Texas, Florida, and California. The greatest projected increase in Respiratory Therapist jobs in the upcoming years are in Puerto Rio, Idaho, and Texas.