Respiratory therapists specialize in providing care to patients who have trouble breathing as the result of acute or chronic respiratory diseases, including asthma, sleep apnea, cystic fibrosis, and emphysema.
Within the healthcare field that focuses on the promotion of optimal lung functioning and health, respiratory therapists are responsible for preventing, diagnosing, and treating all dysfunctions within the cardiopulmonary system.
Daily Duties for Respiratory Therapists:
- Evaluating patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
- Consulting with physicians to design effective patient treatment plans
- Performing diagnostic assessments to test lung capacity
- Supervising respiratory therapy technicians during testing and reviewing the test findings
- Treating patients with chest physiotherapy to remove mucus from the lungs
- Connecting patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators to deliver oxygen
- Educating patients on how to use at-home treatments and eliminate environmental hazards from their living environment
- Maintaining detailed records on the progress of patient treatment
Respiratory Therapist Job Description
What do respiratory therapists do? In most cases, respiratory therapist can be found working in hospitals, physicians’ offices, private practices, nursing homes, and other similar medical care facilities. Respiratory therapist may also find employment in home healthcare services for traveling to patients’ homes. With respiratory therapists treating patients in every age group, their workday can consist of working with premature infants with underdeveloped lungs, middle-aged adults suffering from a heart attack, or an elderly patient with lung cancer.
The majority of respiratory therapists are employed on full-time schedules, but it is common for them to work considerably longer than the average 40 hour workweek. Due to their work in medical facilities, respiratory therapists need to provide round-the-clock care to patients with evening, night, weekend, and holiday hours. While spending most of their day on their feet, respiratory therapists work closely with patients, families, respiratory therapy technicians, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Skills Needed to Be a Respiratory Therapist
Along with licensure and certification, it is required that respiratory therapists have at least an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree to legally practice. In order to successfully accomplish their daily tasks, respiratory therapists must have extensive knowledge in human anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, mathematics, and patient assessment.
Respiratory therapist must possess strong interpersonal skills to interact with patients and work as part of healthcare team as well as problem-solving skills to evaluate patients’ symptoms for diagnosis. Furthermore, respiratory therapists should exhibit high levels of patience, compassion, and empathy for providing emotional support to patients undergoing treatment.