Key Factors to Consider Before Taking Respiratory Therapist Training
Respiratory therapy is now considered one of the fastest-growing jobs in the health care sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this profession will see a 19% increase between 2006 and 2016, driven by the growing population of middle-aged and elderly with cardiopulmonary conditions. Aside from that, prospective respiratory therapists can expect to receive a lucrative salary.
To capitalize on this growth, many individuals are beginning to take respiratory therapist training programs. However, those who are interested should take note of the duties and responsibilities of a respiratory therapist before enrolling into respiratory therapy schools.
Key Tasks of a Respiratory Therapist
In hospitals, respiratory therapists, also known as respiratory therapy technicians, primarily help physicians diagnose and treat patients with respiratory and pulmonary diseases. They do this by performing several tasks, such as:
Performing diagnostic tests
Assessing the capacity of patients’ lungs
Tracking the oxygen level in patients’ blood
Operating ventilators and other medical equipment
Assisting patients how to use their inhalers
Informing patients about their respiratory diseases
Providing cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation
Getting a Respiratory Therapy Education
A person seeking to become a respiratory therapist needs to earn an associate degree, which takes at least two years to finish. A student may expect to take chemistry, mathematics, human anatomy, physiology, diagnostic procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, among areas of study in respiratory therapist training programs.
High school students who want to pursue a career in respiratory therapy should expose themselves to subjects such as mathematics, chemistry and biology.
Students should consider looking for respiratory therapy schools accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. Accreditation is very vital because graduates who have completed respiratory therapist training programs from unaccredited schools will not be able to secure a professional certification necessary to practice as respiratory care practitioners.
Securing a License to Practice as a Respiratory Therapist
The National Board of Respiratory Care is in charge of awarding licenses to students who have completed respiratory therapist training programs. The board grants the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) license to graduates who have passed an exam and finished their training programs from accredited entry-level or advanced programs. Meanwhile, CRTs who have passed two different licensure exams and graduated from advanced programs are entitled to get the Registered Respiratory Therapy (RRT) certification.
Advancement Opportunities in the Field of Respiratory Therapy
After securing a license, registered respiratory therapists may further advance their career or specialize by taking a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Many therapists may pursue delivering respiratory care to critically ill patients or applying for teaching jobs. Most employers in the health care field prefer hiring registered therapists to serve as supervisors or managers of their respiratory care divisions.
A person interested in becoming a respiratory therapist should also bear in mind that they need to arm themselves with qualities to be able to perform their duties more effectively and deliver quality respiratory care to patients. The profession may require therapists to be extra sensitive to their patients’ needs. A Respiratory therapist training student and professional should also be detail-oriented and capable to work within a team of clinicians.