Over 100,000 respiratory therapists work to help people in the United States. But what is a respiratory therapist, and what patients do they help?
These people are certified medical professionals that care for your lungs. You can find them practicing everywhere, from therapy offices to maternity wards to emergency rooms.
Interested in becoming a respiratory therapist or think one could help you? Then keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Respiratory Therapist?
The main goal of a respiratory therapist is to get their patients breathing better. They have an in-depth knowledge of advanced equipment and practice in a variety of medical environments.
Some common conditions affect the lungs that respiratory therapists treat.
- Lung Trauma
The therapist will assess the patient’s current breathing abilities, create a treatment plan, and then monitor improvement progress.
Types of Respiratory Therapy
Within the field, therapists can specialize in certain types of therapy. This includes adult, pediatric, geriatric, and emergency therapy.
Adult RT can happen in a hospital or outpatient setting. A typical role is the ongoing maintenance of chronic diseases or conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, or emphysema. They can also help adults in their attempts to quit smoking.
Another common area of treatment is the recovery of breathing after a traumatic event or surgery.
Children can suffer from lung issues too. Some pediatric RTs work in the birthing or neonatal unit to assist newborns and babies. Other RTs focus on older children through outpatient care.
As we age, our lungs begin to struggle. These RTs can help monitor and treat conditions that plague individuals aged 65 and older. These include bronchial pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tract infections.
You find this type of therapy in hospital situations. They help people who experience lung failure or are recovering from heart surgery. They can also treat pneumonia.
What to Look for in a Respiratory Therapist
It typically takes two to four years for someone to become a respiratory therapist. They’ll need to complete an accredited associate degree program and pass the national exam.
There are plenty of programs to assist in the process, such as the Respiratory Therapy Zone.
After all requirements are fulfilled, the therapist will receive a license from the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC).
A quality RT will have developed problem-solving skills and be intuitive about the source of your breathing struggles. They’ll also have patience and compassion for you and your family as you go through the efforts of treatment.
Seek out a Respiratory Therapist Today
Now you understand this unique medical job and are no longer asking, what is a respiratory therapist? Does this sound like an engaging career that would appeal to your passion for helping people? Or maybe someone in your family is struggling to breathe deep, and a respiratory therapist could help.
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