Students considering a degree in respiratory therapy might be interested in the various career paths available with this degree. The field is becoming more specialized, and a demand is growing for those professionals who have earned the National Certification-Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), to earn other specialty certifications like neonatology, acute care, and pulmonary functions specialist.
- Registered Respiratory Therapist, RRT
The most obvious career path is to enter a career in general respiratory therapy. Most students who enter the program have the goal of acquiring this role after graduation. Students who have completed their respiratory therapy program and earned the RRT National Credential can seek jobs in this field, which is listed in the All Healthcare list of top 10 jobs with an associate’s degree. This position also appears on U.S. News’ list of top jobs.
- Adult Critical Care Specialty, ACCS
One of the main goals of any RRT is to gain experience in adult intensive care. Today less and less hospitals allow CRTs to enter the ICU areas, reserving this role for professionals with more education in the field.
- Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist, RPFT
The increase in life span, smoking, and occupational diseases, and the shift of patient care from the hospital to the home have each created more demands for diagnostic pulmonary function studies. An RPFT has the option of working within a hospital, in a pulmonary laboratory outside the hospital, in a doctor’s office, and or in creating a business.
- Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist, NPS
Population growth, an increase in the poverty level, migrations, and poor or no pregnancy care have increased the number of premature babies born who require specialized care to help them overcome conditions that in the past would have not allowed them to survive. Childhood asthma and other allergies also contribute to the need for this specialty.
- Sleep Disorders Testing and Therapeutic Intervention Respiratory Care Specialist, SDS
With an increase in the number of people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, there has been an increased demand for therapists specialized in conducting sleep studies. Specialized training in sleep laboratories is required to qualify to challenge this specialty board.
- Home Care RRT
This specialty does not require a special certification at this time; however, with the increase in patients suffering from sleep disorders, and the shift of care from hospitals to the home and subacute facilities there is a need for RRTs to perform the following duties in alternate settings:
- Inspect a patient’s home to make sure it is a safe environment.
- Educate and install sleep apnea equipment in a patient’s home.
- Perform frequent visits to home-bound patients dependent on mechanical ventilation.
- Document progress, suggest therapy changes, and answer questions the caregivers might have together with equipment troubleshooting.
Medicare, Medicaid, the Armed Forces, and independent contractors recognize an AS degree as a technical career and a bachelor degree as the entrance level for a professional. As such these institutions are changing their reimbursement rules.
FNU has developed an Advanced Option for RRTs holding an AS to complete a BSRT completely on line. This will prepare RRTs to face the demands of the new century. And while a BSRT is becoming a standard in the profession of Respiratory Therapy, it also serves as a platform for those RRTs who wish to further their studies by becoming physician assistants to a pulmonary specialist, a field of recent birth but with a great future.
FNU: Challenging Students to be Their Best
Respiratory therapists play a critical role in the health and status of patients across the globe. If you are ready to get started saving lives, one by one, consider studying in a respiratory therapist associate’s program. Apply to FNU now!