Respiratory Therapists

Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.

Median Annual Wage: $56,730

Education: Associate's degree (83%); Bachelor's degree (12%); Post-secondary certificate (5%)

Projected Growth: Faster than average (15% to 21%)

Related Job Titles: Staff Therapist; Respiratory Therapist (RT); Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT); Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP); Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT); Clinical Coordinator of Respiratory Therapy; Respiratory Therapy Director; Staff Respiratory Therapist; Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Respiratory Therapist; Cardiopulmonary Technician and EEG Tech (Cardiopulmonary Technician and Electroencephalogram Technician)

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Respiratory Therapists.

More Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Careers

  • Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, or blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.
  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, or aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures or related duties.
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
  • Relay blood analysis results to a physician.
  • Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
  • Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.
  • Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises or the use of medications or respiratory equipment.
  • Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
  • Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.
  • Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
  • Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
  • Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
  • Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.
  • Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Respiratory Therapists.

  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Respiratory Therapists.

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