Choosing an occupation is the first step students should consider before enrollment. A search and inquire is recommended before deciding on a professional path. In particular, healthcare careers are demanding and stressful. Take for example respiratory therapy. Professionals in this fieldwork in a variety of settings and shifts. For future respiratory therapists, there are five items to consider personal characteristics of a respiratory therapist, school options, professional chores, and demands/ work environment, licensing and certification, and job outlook. For information on this career path, students who are considering a path in respiratory therapy should read on to understand 5 things before becoming a Respiratory Therapist (RT):
What Respiratory Therapists Do
A Respiratory Therapist specializes in assessing and caring for patients who have respiratory disorders, diseases and general problems breathing. Respiratory therapists work in a variety of settings from acute hospital care, trauma, and hyperbaric chamber to long-term facilities, home care, and pulmonary function laboratories and rehabilitation programs.
Respiratory therapists draw and analyze arterial blood samples, care for mechanically ventilated patients, perform test to determine the degree of lung damage, work in sleep studies laboratories, install sleep apnea non-invasive ventilators, educate patients on smoke cessation and asthma preventions well as the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and asthma patients, and the maintenance treatments that prevent hospitalizations.
Some of the tasks that Respiratory Therapists perform:
- Performing tests and studies, checking vitals
- Managing life support with said ventilation systems
- Administering aerosol-based medications
- Managing artificial airways
- Analyzing x-rays
- Labwork, analyzing blood and sputum
- Working in a team of physicians to recommend therapies
- Counseling and educating patients
- Update records (Admin Duties)
Asthma, emphysema, infections, cancer, cystic fibrosis or chronic respiratory diseases are among the respiratory problems that an RT can treat, within a broad patient age range starting from a premature infant and all ages in between and up to the elderly.
Respiratory therapists are required to keep close records of each patient and their progress and evaluate the findings of examinations.
1. The Work Environment
Although most Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, they can also be found in in-home care and nursing care facilities.
Hospital shifts are long and RT’s spend long periods of time on their feet caring for patients. Individuals who work in hospitals will often work evenings, nights and weekend hours to help cover all of the shifts.
Those who work in-home care are responsible for teaching patients or their families how to properly use all of the equipment needed to care for a patient at home. During routine visits to patient’s homes, they will inspect the equipment to ensure that it is working properly. A therapist will also respond to emergency calls for home visits when necessary.
Another option that is becoming popular in the age of remote working is to become a traveling Respiratory Therapist.
Staffing agencies like LRS Healthcare help place respiratory therapists in hospitals all across the country where help is needed the most. With a high demand in this field of work, there are plenty of amazing options for job assignments. You can easily find assignments in states that offer some of the highest wages. As a great bonus, LRS Healthcare provides a housing stipend that will allow you to explore cities that may have a higher cost of living.
That said, the highest paying cities might still prove to be a difficult job market. But with these kinds of organizations that have connections to a wide network of hospitals, they help get your foot in the door to new opportunities, even if they have fewer job opportunities than other areas.
Whether you stay at home or choose the freedom to work all across the country, you won’t regret enrolling at FNU to become an RT today!
2. Job Outlook
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics, employment of Respiratory Therapists is projected to grow 23% from 2016 – 2026, which they state is “much faster than average.” Respiratory Therapists rank #19 in Best Health Care Jobs and have an extremely low unemployment rate of 0.3%. Jobs are ranked according to their ability to offer an elusive mix of factors. If you eventually want to vary your career, specialists in this field can have other certifications like Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist credential, or the Sleep Disorders Testing and Therapeutic Intervention Respiratory Care Specialist credential.
The growth of the middle-aged and elderly population is increasing job demand to treat conditions that are common in older age, including permanent damage, suffered from diseases such as pneumonia. The BLS also conveys that the median annual wage of an RT was about $59,871 in 2017. Some of the highest-paid states for RTs are
- California – $78,820.
- Nevada – $72,630.
- New Jersey – $71,940.
- Alaska – $71,820.
- New York – $71,100.
Contact us online to discover the degree options in healthcare at FNU.
3. How to Become a Respiratory Therapist
To become a Respiratory Therapist, one must acquire at least an associate’s degree. However, it is even better to obtain a bachelor’s degree, as it shows dedication and further education. Florida National University is dedicated to helping the members of its immediate community in Hialeah and South Miami achieve their dreams. Healthcare is one of the fields and also one of the fastest-growing, according to the BLS. At FNU, we offer several healthcare-related programs for our community to excel in healthcare and achieve top positions, and higher job and life satisfaction.
You can jump into the field with an associate’s degree in Respiratory Therapy from FNU in roughly two years (80 credits). Topics in the FNU coursework include:
- Respiratory Care Equipment
- Respiratory Anatomy and Physiology
- Pediatrics / Neonatal Respiratory Care
- Cardiopulmonary Diagnostics
- Advances in Cardiopulmonary Function
Take a look at the Student Handbook for an Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy to see all of the details on requirements, courses and their description.
A Bachelor’s Degree at FNU requires a minimum of 120 credits to graduate. The program enhances the knowledge of an RT graduate by providing them with the skills to manage patients while staying aware of cultural diversity and the skills needed to supervise in the health care setting.
4. Licensing and Certification
Upon completion of a respiratory therapy program, and in order to gain access to the workforce, a graduate must challenge two national exams administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). In the first test, the Therapist Multiple Choice Exam (TMC) has a low and a high passing score.
The low score grants the graduate the Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRT) national credential and lows the candidate to apply for a CRT state license in states that still grant licenses to CRTs. The high score qualifies the candidate to challenge the Clinical simulation Exam (CSSE) which leads to the national credential of Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). National credentials qualify therapists to apply for state licensure. Currently, all states of the union except Alaska require state licensure.
Note that FNU is fully accredited to award Certificates, Associate, Baccalaureate and Master’s degree programs that are nationally recognized.
Learn more about Licensing in Florida at Floridasrespiratorycare.gov
5. Qualities of a Respiratory Therapist
A respiratory therapist must be compassionate towards the suffering, have solid communications skills to work within the medical team of experts in different fields, possess fine-tuned critical thinking skills to make in-the-moment decisions, and be a lifelong learner to keep up with the latest technologies and research development in the area of patient care.
With some of those areas in mind, examine this small checklist of some important qualities that a respiratory therapist should have:
- Being detail-oriented to ensure that patients are receiving the correct treatment.
- Keeping and collecting well-organized records of the patient’s condition.
- Problem-solving skills in order to evaluate patient’s test results and symptoms.
- Working with doctors and in team-oriented environments requires Interpersonal skills.
- Compassion is important so that therapists can serve as a support system for patients suffering from an illness.
- Because RT’s work long hours in hospitals providing special care for patients it is important that one has an enormous amount of patience.
- The ability to manage risk and capability to work well under pressure.
- Science and math skills. Respiratory therapists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate the right dose of a patient’s medicine.
Respiratory Therapy is offered at both the Associate and Bachelor levels. However, in the near future and due to government legislation, the entry-level into the profession will be a bachelor’s of science in respiratory therapy. Most colleges and universities with respiratory therapy programs require that the student attends on a full-time basis.
Furthermore, a large number of these institutions have all-day programs morning to afternoons. The latter might conflict with the work schedule of candidates who must work full-time jobs. FNU has an evening associate of science in respiratory therapy for students to help students in the previously described population. We also offer an on-line degree advance program for respiratory therapists with an AS who wants to earn a higher degree in preparation for future changes in the profession.
If you are considering a path in Respiratory Therapy, FNU is ready to welcome you into the family of growing healthcare students! Take a closer look at our Associates’ Degree and Bachelor’s Degree programs. If you are still searching for your career path, FNU can help! Check out our other programs and apply today!