It is an exciting time for the respiratory care profession. America’s Career Infonet has targeted respiratory therapy as one of the fastest growing professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth at 19% (2012 - 2022) for respiratory therapists. Career opportunities are excellent and earning potential is competitive with other health professions.
A Respiratory therapist, also known as a respiratory care practitioner, is the health profession responsible for evaluating, treating and caring for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Practicing under the direction of a physician, respiratory therapists assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care therapeutic treatments and diagnostic procedure. Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat all types of patients, ranging from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people whose lungs are diseased.
Respiratory therapists setup, operate and monitor devices that provide oxygen or medicine in the form of a mist or gas to patients. They use and maintain equipment such as mechanical ventilator, therapeutic gas, administration apparatus and aerosols generators. Respiratory therapists are also responsible for teaching patients about breathing exercises, monitoring patients’ physiological responses to therapy and maintaining natural and artificial airways, while maintaining the patient’s records.
Respiratory care personnel must be able to see and hear well, have mechanical ability and manual dexterity to work with machines and be able to be on their feet most of the day. Therapists should be sensitive to a patient’s physical and psychological needs. In addition, operating advanced equipment requires proficiency with computers.
About 90% of respiratory therapists work in hospitals with the department of respiratory care, anesthesiology, emergency medicine or pulmonary medicine. Therapists may assist physicians is clinical setting or operating rooms. With additional education or experience, therapists may advance to supervisory positions, managerial positions or become academic instructors.
Upon completion of the program, the graduate will be able to:
Demonstrate the ability to comprehend, apply and evaluate clinical information relevant to the roles an advanced-level respiratory therapist (cognitive domain).
Demonstrate the technical proficiency in all the skills necessary to fulfill their roles as an advanced-level respiratory therapist (psychomotor domain).
Demonstrate professional behaviors consistant with employer expectations of an advanced-level respiratory therapist (affective domain).
WHERE DO RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS WORK?
Respiratory therapists provide respiratory and cardiopulmonary services to patients of all ages from neonatal to geriatric in a variety of settings from outpatient to critical care, including:
- Outpatient clinics or offices
- Hospitals (outpatient and inpatient services)
- Sub-acute and Long-term pulmonary care settings
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation facilities
- Education and research centers
- Home Medical Services
- Operating Rooms
- Hyperbaric Services
- Medical Flight Services
- Pulmonary Function Labs
- Sleep Diagnostic Centers
WHAT DO RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS EARN?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median annual wages to be $55,870 in 2012. This varies by region and geographical area, position, years of experience, degree of education, and practice setting.
WHAT IS THE EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK FOR RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in the respiratory profession is expected to grow 19% from the year 2012 to 2022. This is much faster than average and job opportunities are expected to be very good.
Can I continue my education at other educational institutions with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Respiratory Care?
Yes, there is a variety of avenues to continue a baccalaureate program which will accept your associate degree credit. Please visit with the Respiratory Care Program Director regarding these opportunities.