What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?

Delving into the field of respiratory care is a smart move for anyone who is compassionate, driven, and looking to help patients within the healthcare community. It is a growing field that offers an exciting life for anyone looking to make a difference. Perhaps you have a natural interest in helping others and have always been drawn to the healthcare industry. If you are looking for a career that won’t take several, costly years of medical school, a career in respiratory therapy may be a perfect fit.

Still, the big question remains: What does a Respiratory Therapist do? What is the day-to-day like in respiratory care? And how big a role does a Respiratory Therapist play in the medical world?

As a leading respiratory therapy school in Connecticut, Goodwin College understands how important (and practical) these questions are when assessing your future. You want to choose the right career path, and you want to ensure the job description aligns with your passions and needs. You are in the right place. In this article, we’ll break down the Respiratory Therapy (RT) job and what it entails.

A Day in the Life of a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing. Patients range in all ages, come from all different backgrounds, and suffer from a variety of health concerns. Those with asthma, emphysema, chronic respiratory disease, and heart disease, for example, all require the help of a Respiratory Therapist.

Overall, respiratory care includes:

  • Administration of oxygen
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Management of mechanical ventilators
  • Administering drugs to the lungs
  • Monitoring cardiopulmonary systems
  • Measuring lung function

More specifically, some of the daily duties of a Respiratory Therapist include:

  • Examine and interview patients
  • Consult with physicians to determine treatment plans
  • Perform diagnostic tests, such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treat patients using a variety of methods, such as aerosol medications and chest physiotherapy
  • Obtain and analyze blood and sputum specimens
  • Use ventilators to help patients breathe
  • Monitor and record patients’ progress
  • Teach patients how to use equipment and take medications

Respiratory Therapists work with equipment and medical supplies on a daily basis to help treat patients. For example, RTs often test lung capacity by having patients breathe into an instrument that measures volume and flow of oxygen as they breathe. Respiratory Therapists also take blood samples and use a blood gas analyzer to text oxygen and carbon dioxide levels for patients.

Respiratory Therapists may also perform chest physiotherapy on patients to remove mucus from the lungs and help make breathing easier. This is a crucial task for anyone suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.

Respiratory Therapists also work with ventilators, helping connect patients who have trouble breathing on their own. These professionals must insert a tube into a person’s trachea and connect the tube to the equipment. They also set up and monitor the machine, to make sure the patient is receiving the proper amount of air at the right pace.

Because the patients in need of respiratory care range so widely, Respiratory Therapists are able to land jobs in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Acute care hospitals
  • Homecare settings
  • Life Star air ambulance
  • Rehabilitation and long-term care facilities

In some hospitals, RTs are involved in related areas of the field – such as diagnosing breathing problems for those with sleep apnea and even offering counseling to patients on how to stop smoking.

The Importance of a Respiratory Therapist

From the daily duties, it is clear to see why professionals in the respiratory therapy field are so critical. RTs are important members of the overall health care team. They work under the medical direction of doctors and treat all types of patients, from premature infants to the elderly. They provide temporary relief to patients suffering chronic illnesses and offer emergency care to patients experiencing a heart attack, stroke, drowning, or shock. It is literally a matter of life and death when on the job!

That is what makes a career in respiratory care such a rewarding one – both professionally and personally. It also offers that perfect blend of technology and patient interaction.

Respiratory Therapist careers are growing – in Connecticut and across the country. The Connecticut Department of Labor states that RT careers are growing “faster than average.” Nationally, according to the Labor of Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow 23 percent over the next several years – much faster than the average for all occupations!

Now, rather than asking, “What does a Respiratory Therapist do?” you may be wondering, “What can I do to start my career in respiratory therapy?” To become a respiratory therapist in Connecticut today, you must earn an associate-level degree from an accredited RT school. Only then can you move on to become a licensed Respiratory Therapist. Goodwin College offers a career-focused, 70-credit associate degree in respiratory care. Here, we prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and clinical experience needed to pursue a successful career in this exciting and in-demand field.

To learn more about the Respiratory Therapist training program at Goodwin College, call us at 800-889-3282. You may also request more information online about our flexible and competitive program.