Respiratory therapy is a career that offers many rewards and benefits. Despite having less exposure than other health care careers, respiratory therapist training is a wise investment for a number of different reasons. For one, the training is relatively short. In just two short years, respiratory therapy students have earned their associate’s degree and can enjoy successful careers.
Who is right for a career in respiratory therapy? This profession requires an individual who is service oriented, naturally inclined in the sciences, and has a strong rapport with individuals in pain and crisis. More specifically, respiratory therapists work with patients who struggle breathing. A typical respiratory therapist might have a patient with chronic respiratory disease, another with asthma and another with emphysema. One of the best aspects of a job in respiratory therapy is that it allows individuals to work with a wide range of patients – from infants who have been born with underdeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs.
A respiratory therapist is part educator, part clinician. In a typical day, a respiratory therapist might examine patients with cardiopulmonary disorders and then follow up by developing treatment plans. They perform diagnostic tests and treat patients with various medications and chest physiotherapy. A respiratory therapist educates patients and their families on how to use different equipment such as how to use a ventilator or inhaler. A respiratory therapist might collaborate on an anti-tobacco project or campaign.
One of the best aspects of this career is that respiratory therapist training is relatively short when compared with dental or medical school. The job outlook is expected to grow in the next few years.