Becoming a Respiratory Therapist Information
Another growing profession in today’s medical and healthcare industry is respiratory therapy.
Respiratory therapists are professionals who provide care working beside physicians and pulmonary specialists in regard to breathing and respiratory problems in patients, both of which are critical concerns in many facets of a person’s medical care.
As with many other healthcare professions the need for respiratory therapists is on the rise, is the median salary, making respiratory therapy another lucrative and rewarding career for individuals interested in a career helping people.
What Do Respiratory Therapists Do?
Although the main duty of a respiratory therapist is dealing with airway and breathing issues in patients, there are many other important jobs these professionals do.
Basic therapy includes evaluating a patient’s cardiopulmonary function, and then working with doctors and the patients themselves to alleviate and manage any issues.
They will perform diagnostic testing on patients to determine lung capacity and pinpoint respiratory concerns, review case results with physicians and develop treatment plans for a patient.
Therapists will then discuss these plans with patients, start any outpatient treatments and instruct patients on their medications and other therapies to be done at home.
A therapist will continue to monitor their patients over time to ensure therapies are providing the necessary relief, and then report progress back to the case physician.
Respiratory therapists frequently work in hospitals and specialty outpatient practice settings, but there is actually much diversity in the field, offering other employment options as well.
They are needed not only in a medical capacity regular hospitals, but in nursing care as well, especially in geriatric care and home health care. Within hospital settings they have the important roles of initiating and maintaining life support, critical patient respiratory care and the preparation of respiratory and critical patients for transport in and out of facilities. They oversee patients on ventilators as well, and work with anesthesiologists to monitor patient breathing during anesthetic procedures.
Becoming a Respiratory Therapist
Students must complete a minimum of an Associate’s degree in respiratory therapy or respiratory sciences order to obtain the more basic positions working in private practice, for home healthcare agencies and other lower impact capacities.
Those who continue their education and go on to earn their Bachelor’s degree are usually more qualified for advanced care work, and are also in higher demand by most hospitals and private practices, too.
After graduation from dedicated schools, RTs must then become certified by passing a national certification exam, after which point they can then become either licensed or registered, depending on the country, and seek employment.
RTs must keep up a certain requirement of continuing education hours just like most medical professionals as well. There are two different certifications that dictate the employment that an RT can qualify for in most cases. A first level certification awards the title of Certified Respiratory Therapist or CRT; second level certification awards a title of Registered Respiratory Therapist
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is on the rise by an estimated 28 percent through the year 2020.
Currently, in the US alone, there are over 115,000 certified therapists, and this number is expected to grow considerably. Due to improving economies and a larger aging population, this is just one of the many healthcare jobs seeing drastic increases, making it possible for more people than ever to complete schooling and obtain a rewarding job in healthcare.
Median salary as of May 2010 was about $55,000 annually. The low range salary in this profession was $40,000 annually and the high range salary $74,000 annually.
A Certified therapist usually earns on the lower end of the scale while a registered therapist earns on the higher end.
Also, of all median salaries, highest rates of pay were found in nursing care facilities with an annual rate of $57,450; home health care services paid the next highest rates with an average of $56,000 annually. Hospitals and private practice both came in under $55,000.
With as little as two years of schooling to earn a respiratory therapist degree, anyone interested in an important and detailed career as a respiratory therapist should consider enrolling in schools soon.
With so much growth happening in this profession, and the industry in general, there is much advancement possible, as well as competitive salaries, making it a great career choice.