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How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Posted by travel | August 15, 2012 | Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists can evaluate as well as treat patients with different types of breathing disorders like asthma, emphysema and/or cystic fibrosis by utilizing different kinds of methods and equipment. Do you want to know how to become a respiratory therapist? Then reading this article should be worthwhile.

If you want to get professional training in respiratory therapy, you need to start preparing in high school. The number of courses you take is your choice. You can take courses in biology, chemistry and physics. It is also helpful that you take courses in math as well as in health science in high school.

You are required to complete a 2-year post-secondary training program. Such respiratory therapy programs are usually offered by hospitals, colleges, vocational and technical schools and the military. Such programs usually include classroom as well as clinical practice components. They culminate in an associate’s degree.

You need to proceed by passing the licensing examination that is governed by the National Board for Respiratory Care. This exam is meant to certify you to become an approved respiratory therapist. Licensing generally is needed to perform your job tasks in all the states. There are 10 states that are exceptions to this rule though.

Respiratory Therapist nurse holding ink drawing of lungsIf you want to know how to become a respiratory therapist, you should know that it is simple to advance your career by getting extra training and obtaining a bachelor’s degree. You will accumulate much more clinical knowledge this way. Maintaining the license is important. You have to do this by earning continuing education credits every 2 years.

As breathing is obviously critical to our health, keeping the respiratory system in good working order is a skill that will always be in demand. Fact is, it happens to be among the more crucial aspects of overall human well being.

There are over three million people in the U.S. alone who are afflicted with some form of severe respiratory disease. The medical practitioners specializing in respiratory care are now and will continue to be in great demand; should you decide to work in the clinical field, becoming a dedicated respiratory therapist makes good sense.

Respiratory Therapist Jobs – Learn How to Get Hired

Respiratory therapist jobs are pretty appealing as the salary level is quite good. Registered respiratory therapists have the job of assessing as well as treating patients suffering from breathing disorders. But the nature of their job requires that they work under the close supervision of a certified physician.

The BLS recently reported that there is a projection for quicker than average growth in this job sector. In the period of 2006 to 2016, an additional 38,000 respiratory therapist jobs will be created.
If you look at the national estimates, you will see that the mean wage per hour for respiratory therapists as of 2008 was $25.55 whereas the mean yearly salary was $53,150. It is also true that the yearly median wage range remains between $37,920 and $69,800.

To get respiratory therapist jobs, the aspiring health care workers have to get an associate’s degree. This is the minimum academic requirement. As a professional, you will also need a license to practice in any of the US states. Hawaii and Alaska are exceptions, though.

Nearly all health care facilities require that the seekers of respiratory therapist jobs come with cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification. A respiratory therapist possessing higher education is allowed to advance to the supervisory positions.

Experience is a must when it comes to securing well paid respiratory therapist jobs. With experience, a respiratory therapist is able to advance as well as receive a much higher pay. The job experience could be in common to critical care. He or she has to deal with the patients who have detrimental complications in their organs (e.g. heart diseases or kidney complications).

The top paid therapists in the US are the ones working for junior colleges. These professionals earn a yearly mean salary of $68,770. The top paying state is California, offering a mean wage of $65,440 per annum.

Just as said earlier, these therapists perform their duties under the close supervision of certified physicians when it comes to evaluating and/or treating patients suffering from breathing complications or other types of cardiopulmonary disorders.

With the assistance of a respiratory therapist technician, the therapist takes the key responsibility to oversee some of the treatments of patients. The patients include infants, the elderly and those suffering from chronic conditions as well as emergency patients.

The respiratory therapists these days are required by law to come with an associate’s degree as a minimum and a proper license for practicing.
The respiratory therapist jobs also offer considerable benefits as well. Did you know that the middle value of bonuses isn’t anything more than $34 per year, whereas the other benefits remain significantly more?

Employers’ contribution into Social Security can add a substantial value to the compensation package of respiratory therapist jobs to the tune of $4,303. This includes retirement savings plans (adding US$2,025) as well as disability funds (adding $563), whereas the healthcare benefits add yet another $5,722 on an average.

Pensions, on the other hand can add $2,588, whereas the time-off can add a much as $7,356. The total value of these extra compensations for respiratory therapist jobs amounts to $78,807 while the base salary will make up just around 70% of this.

Working as a Respiratory Therapist

Also referred to as a Respiratory Care Practitioner, a Respiratory Therapist plays a key role in helping patients with respiratory problems recover or live a better quality life. Regardless of the cause a breathing or cardiopulmonary problem, this type of therapist is dedicated to making life easier and more productive for patients.

Respiratory Therapist Responsibilities The primary role of a respiratory therapist is to assess, treat, and care for people who have some kind of breathing or cardiopulmonary disease. Although these professionals work directly with patients they must also report to the attending physician and in some cases, therapists supervise respiratory therapy technicians. However, for patients that have health problems that involve restricted breathing, the therapist would conduct diagnostic procedures and then offer the appropriate treatment.

Because many patients face life-threatening situations, not only is the respiratory therapist required to work under the physician but also follow very strict respiratory care procedures. Typically, a respiratory therapist helps develop and/or modify care plans on an individual patient basis, provide complex therapies, and even perform certain physical examinations, as well as conduct some diagnostic tests such as determine levels of oxygen and other gasses in a patient’s blood.

A respiratory therapist usually works in an emergency room or intensive care unit of a hospital although some work in other types of medical facilities. As patients come in, pH levels would be measured to identify blood’s level of acid or alkaline, evaluate lung capacity, measure flow and volume of oxygen, analyze carbon dioxide levels, draw arterial blood samples, test blood with a gas analyzer, and then compare test results based on established criteria, followed by reporting all results to the attending doctor.

While a respiratory therapist can study and train to work with a certain age of patient, most work with people of all age groups. Sometimes, this means working with a newborn baby born prematurely whose lungs have not yet fully developed, an elderly patient suffering from a chronic lung disease, or a person with damaged lungs as the result of smoking or being exposed to harmful chemicals or substances such as asbestos.

In an emergency setting, the respiratory therapist would also work with patients who have asthma, emphysema, those who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, and even patients that have undergone shock or even drowned. The skill and experience of a respiratory therapist could mean the difference in saving a patient’s life. Once stabilized, these professionals also educate patients and families on using various life support systems and ventilators.

Along with follow up visits to patients, a respiratory therapist would be on call for emergency situations they would provide regular patient visits to analyze current health but also clean equipment, change out equipment, or check for mechanical equipment problems or failure. Additionally, this professional assists during surgery for respiration while a patient is under anesthesia, performs physiotherapy for the removal of mucus collected in the lungs, administer aerosols and other medications, and the list goes on.

Ideal Candidates – The best person to work as a respiratory therapist would have the ability to work and think independently while being supervised, be emotionally stable to deal with life-threatening situations, be resourceful, have solid decision-making abilities, be organized, and possess great oral and written communication, and finally, display compassion and patience to frustrated and frightened patients.

Educational and Training Requirements

To work as a respiratory therapist, both proper certification and higher education are mandatory. The two primary types of college degrees acquired include a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Respiratory Care and a Bachelor’s degree in respiratory care. However, a number of clinics and hospitals will hire someone with an Associate’s degree but going further to earn a Master’s degree is recommended in that it would open more doors of opportunity and increase potential salary.

In addition to certification and a college degree, a respiratory therapist is required by all states with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska to have a current license to practice medicine. To earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist credential, an individual would need to pass an examination based on the National Board for Respiratory Care criteria. For people needing advanced certification, a test to be certified as a Registered Respiratory Therapist would be taken. Regardless, all therapists of this type must also maintain current CPR certification.

As a part of education and training, the individual would learn things such as human anatomy, pharmacology, chemistry, medical terminology, and physiology. The main principles that apply to a career such are those relating to chemistry, physical, and mathematical, helping with analysis of oxygen and gas concentrations, as well as proper drug dosage.

Respiratory Therapist Salary

On average, a respiratory therapist earns around $50,000 a year. However, based on geographic location, type of facility, level of education and training, certification status, history of experience, and other factors, salary could be as low as $40,000 a year or as high as $65,000 a year, sometimes more. For therapists that supervise entire teams or a complete hospital department, earning $100,000 and more is feasible. FLor More Respiratory therapist salary info visit the Respiratory Therapist Career Guide

Future Career Opportunities Not now nor will there be a shortage of jobs for qualified respiratory therapists, especially considering the vast number of baby boomers who are aging. Along with this specific career, overall there are incredible advancement opportunities within this same field for skilled supervisors and managers, teaching, conducting research for pharmaceutical companies, and even working as a member of a home health care team.