What is 'Respiratory Care Technology?' (RESP)
For thousands of Americans who suffer from breathing problems, each breath is a major accomplishment. These people include patients with chronic lung problems such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, but they also include heart attack and accident victims, premature infants, and people with cystic fibrosis, lung cancer or HIV. In each case, the person will most likely receive treatment from a Respiratory Therapist under the direction of a physician. Respiratory Therapists work to evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders.
Respiratory Therapists perform diagnostic procedures such as obtaining and analyzing blood gas samples, measuring lung function values, and studying sleep patterns. These procedures are vital in assessing the patients’ overall lung health, extent of disease progression, and the development and implementation of a medical care plan. Respiratory Therapists provide many direct-care therapy modalities including the administration of oxygen, inhaled medications, initiation and management of invasive and noninvasive mechanical ventilation, chest percussion, airway clearance, and artificial airway placement and maintenance. Respiratory Therapists also provide valuable clinical educational information on smoking cessation, home administration of medications and therapies, and maintenance of personal respiratory therapy equipment.
Is it for you?
To find out, you should ask yourself: Would I like to work with people of all ages – from infancy to old age? Do I like to apply practical knowledge in a variety of situations? Am I good in the sciences? Am I flexible and adaptable in my work habits? Can I shift my focus quickly and effectively? Would I like to have a job that keeps me active? Do I have a creative and analytical approach to problem solving?
Respiratory Therapists must:
- Be sensitive to the physical and psychological needs of others in their environment
- Be able to make decisions based on data and observations and uphold standards of professional practice
- Possess communication and intellectual skills necessary to perform patient assessment in a clinical setting
- Have an appreciation of working closely with other health professionals as a member of a team
- Have good manual and physical dexterity, possess a sense of equilibrium along with sufficient motor function to carry out activities required in the clinical practice of caring for patients, including doing moderate lifting.
- Have good space and form perception, good numerical and verbal abilities, and possess the functional use of senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell.
- Be able to remain calm in emergency situations
Upon admission to the Respiratory Care Technology Program, the college is required to obtain background and criminal record reports. All clinical facilities require completed criminal background checks prior to allowing students to care for their patients. Students refused access to clinical agencies based on criminal history will jeopardize their continuation in the program. In addition, all students will be required to submit to drug screening and complete a Student Medical form, which includes a physical examination and documentation of required immunizations.
Individuals considering a career as a Respiratory Therapist must be aware of strict qualifications established by state health department agencies. Factors that may disqualify a person from licensure and/or employment include a history of abuse, neglect, theft, and fraud; a criminal record; a history of drug abuse; significant phychological/personality disorders; physiological disorders; neuro-muscular dysfunction; dishonesty, etc.
Jobs and Salary expectations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Respiratory Therapists is expected to increase faster than average over the next decade, primarily because the aging baby boom generation will increase the number of older people. Older patients tend to suffer from the most respiratory conditions like pneumonia and COPD and often have respiratory complications due to heart disease and other common disease of aging. While U.S. employment in general is forecast to increase 15 percent, the need for respiratory therapists is expected to grow by up to 26 percent.
With the demand for respiratory therapists on the rise, salaries are following suit. According to the 2009 Human Resources study from the American Association for Respiratory Care, the projected average annual earnings of respiratory therapists in the United States is $62,223. In this study, depending on the area of the country, therapists just beginning their careers reported annual earnings ranging from $42,078-$47,297.
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