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The field of Respiratory Therapy is booming and the BLS reports that the number of jobs is expected to increase by 19% in the next few years due to the aging baby boomer population. These aging boomers will mean an increase in incidences of cardiopulmonary disorders and diseases like COPD, emphysema, lung cancer and pneumonia.

Job Duties of the Respiratory Therapist may vary depending on the type of healthcare facility, the respiratory services provided by the facility, and the level of supervision. The job description of the RT in virtually all these settings is very similar.

The Respiratory Therapist will assist patients who suffer from cardiopulmonary problems such as chronic diseases or infections. Their work is always done under their supervision of a physician and responsibilities may include evaluation, diagnosis and treating disorders affecting the patient’s breathing.

The RT will perform diagnostic cardiopulmonary evaluations and respiration therapy treatments designed to treat patients with dysfunction and deficiencies of the cardiopulmonary system. Evaluation may involve acquiring, analyzing and interpreting data obtained from ordered diagnostic tests and specimens.

Jobs for Respiratory Therapists may be available in various settings including skilled nursing homes, critical care hospitals, surgical hospitals, rehabilitation centers, outpatient care centers, patient transport systems, sleep disorder clinics and job duties would differ according to setting. In an acute-care setting the RT is responsible for operating and maintaining acute care ventilators for both short and long term mechanical ventilation of neonates, pediatrics, and adults. In a skilled nursing home the therapist may be responsible for administering oxygen therapy and aerosol therapy, airway maintenance and tracheal suctioning. Jobs in this field can be found in every setting from neonatal intensive care to a nursing home because Respiratory Therapists treat patients of all ages.

Respiratory Therapist basis job duties and responsibilities may include:

  • Maintaining natural and artificial airways
  • Performing pulmonary function testing
  • Monitoring and conducting prescribed diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Documenting information accurately to the patient’s medical record and maintaining complete and accurate records
  • Performing hemodynamic monitoring and other physiologic monitoring
  • Communicating and collaborating with members of the health care team
  • Assembling, maintaining and calibrating respiratory therapy equipment and identifying and remedying equipment malfunctions
  • Educating patients on lung health and disease prevention
  • Communicating with patient and their family members
  • Performing testing to assist in diagnosis, treatment and research
  • Educating patients on the use of inhalation devices and inhalers

Skills in the following procedures and methods :

  • Inhaled medications
  • Aerosols
  • Application and monitoring of medical gases
  • Environmental control systems
  • Ventilator support
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Postural drainage
  • Humidification systems
  • Bronchopulmonary drainage/hygiene
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Airway management
  • Intubation/tracheotomy

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