Careers in the medical field are hot, and getting even hotter, especially as the Baby Boomer population ages! Respiratory therapists are in demand, and the demand for this position will grow by an estimated 12 percent by the year 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Respiratory therapists care for people with serious breathing problems from infants to the elderly. Patients may include those who have a chronic disease, like asthma or emphysema, or a premature infant with underdeveloped lungs, to a patient who has suffered from shock or heart attack. Respiratory therapists work most frequently in hospital settings such as intensive care units, but can also care for patients in their homes.
Respiratory therapy education and certification
Respiratory therapist training requires an Associate’s Degree at minimum, but the opportunity to earn an advanced degree in respiratory therapy can often lead to additional career options. Respiratory therapy schools offer specialized training that fully integrates medical training within their curriculum.
To work as a respiratory therapist, most states require licensing, a minimum age limit (18), and background checks. All respiratory therapists are required to earn certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Two credentials are available through NBRC are:
- Certified Respiratory Therapist: Requires earning an associate’s degree and passing the certification exam. Exam topics for CRT include evaluate data in the patient record, gather clinical information, perform procedures to gather clinical information, and evaluate procedure results.
- Registered Respiratory Therapist: Requires a CRT certification, meeting educational or experiential requirements and passing a written exam concerning clinical analysis, data and procedures, trouble shooting and quality control of equipment, initiation and modification of interventions, administer medications, develop respiratory care plan, and a second exam with live simulations of clinical situations.
Every respiratory therapy program includes clinical experience, where the student will gain hands-on experience in their field working under the supervision of a certified respiratory therapist.
A day in the life of a respiratory therapist
There are many different specialties within the respiratory therapy field. This depends on what the respiratory therapist (RT) would like to concentrate on, and how they envision their work days.
- An RT can become an educator, training student therapists in cardiology and pulmonology. They can also educate people and families on their condition and how to actively manage it by working in an asthma or pediatric clinic.
- RTs can also work in trauma units, helping to establish and maintain an airway during emergency or intensive care situations. They might also manage life support and stabilize breathing for emergency transports, including helicopter transports.
- RTs can work in operating rooms.
- RTs often work in sleep-disorder clinics, to diagnose sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
- RTs also work in diagnostic laboratories, long-term acute care facilities, physicians’ offices, patients’ homes, and performing research in the university or hospital setting.
If respiratory therapy sounds like the kind of career you would like, and you’re looking for a quality respiratory therapy program call Pittsburgh Career Institute today. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you take the first step toward your respiratory therapy career! Call today!