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What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do All Day?

Respiratory Therapist

November 27 2019 - Do you have a passion for helping people? Want to work with adults and children? The flexibility to work in a hospital or outpatient setting?

If any of this sounds appealing to you, and you have an interest in the medical field, becoming a respiratory therapist may be the right career for you. If you don't know a lot about this field, we're here to help.

If you're wondering "what does a respiratory therapist do?", keep reading to learn more.

What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?

The main purpose of a respiratory therapist is to help others breathe easier. Their job often includes treating diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and pneumonia.

The main responsibilities of respiratory therapists include diagnosis and treatment. They examine patients, perform chest exams, and analyzing chest x-rays and other specimens. Based on their review of the patient, they also recommend and perform the treatment.

Respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages—from premature infants with underdeveloped lungs to elderly patients with cancer or other pulmonary diseases.

Some of the different things they may do on a day-to-day basis include:

  • operating the machines used to administer respiratory care (e.g., ventilators)
  • administering medications (e.g., inhalers or nebulizers)
  • analyzing blood samples
  • taking vital signs
  • analyzing chest x-rays
  • assessing lung capacity
  • counseling patients in cardiopulmonary health
  • patient education (e.g., managing asthma, smoking cessation)
  • consulting with physicians and other members of the patient's medical team

You can find respiratory therapists in many different medical settings, such as the newborn or pediatric intensive care unit, the adult intensive care unit, the emergency room, or even a rehabilitation clinic.

You might also find them working in a physician's office, a sleep disorder center, a nursing home, or in-home health care. A career in respiratory therapy provides many different options when it comes to patients, settings, and duties.

Education and Training Required to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Most institutions that offer education in respiratory therapy have a four-year degree program, while some others offer an associate's degree. In general, you need at least an associate's degree.

Upon completion of your degree, you'll also need to have a license to practice. Only two states (Alaska and Hawaii) don't require respiratory therapists to be licensed.

As you're studying for your degree or to take your certification exam, Respiratory Therapy Zone can help.

What is the Salary and Job Outlook

The job outlook for respiratory therapists is strong. Over the next ten years, job growth is projected at 21%, which is much faster than average. This is largely attributed to the coming increase in the elderly population in the US who may need respiratory therapy.

Salaries are also competitive. Respiratory therapists earn a median salary of just over $60,200 annually.

Is Respiratory Therapy the Career For You?

Now that you can answer "what does a respiratory therapist do?", you can make an educated decision whether this is an occupation that is right for you.

Being a respiratory therapist gives you the opportunity to work in many different settings with different types of patients while also earning a decent salary.

If you found this article useful, be sure to take a look around at some of our other posts.  

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