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Job Description of a Respiratory Therapist

written by: Victoria Trix•edited by: DaniellaNicole•updated: 1/31/2009

This article will discuss the job description of a respiratory therapist, the required education and the career outlook of a respiratory therapist.

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    The job description of a respiratory therapist is best known as a medical professional who provides treatment to patients with breathing cardiovascular disorders. Also known commonly as a respiratory care practitioner, the respiratory therapist also evaluates the condition of the patient and monitors recommended treatment regimes for outcome. During a treatment course, a respiratory therapist may measure lung function and administer oxygen through a mechanical ventilator or medication to the lungs to patients who have chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema. Respiratory therapists are trained to recognize if the oxygen, pH level or carbon dioxide levels of the blood are abnormal and will adjust equipment settings, by physician order, to relieve the patient of discomfort.

    The job description of a respiratory therapist also includes performing a procedure called chest physiotherapy during which mucus is removed from the patient's lungs in order to aid in breathing. This procedure may be required on patients during surgery to prevent congestion as well as during office visits on those patients with acute lung diseases for instance cystic fibrosis, which is symptomatic of mucus collection in the lungs of the patient.

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    Job Description of a Respiratory Therapist: Education Requirements

    The aspiring respiratory therapist must attend college courses in physics, microbiology, mathematics, chemistry, and biology anatomy and physiology, to attain his degree at any of over 400 community colleges and universities nationwide, which offer coursework in respiratory care. The candidate for respiratory therapist may choose from two levels of education and certification to become either a certified respiratory therapist or a registered respiratory therapist.

    The title of Certified Respiratory Therapist (or CRT) is granted to the associate's degree holder who passes the required examination for certification. Upon certification, the CRT is permitted to take up to two more examinations, which, upon passing, will earn the credential of a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

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    Job Description of a Respiratory Therapist: Career Outlook

    Respiratory therapists who are trained and experienced in working with infants have an especially positive outlook for stable employment and career advancement. The advancing age of the baby boomer generation is also contributing to the expected increase in demand for respiratory therapists who also have cardiopulmonary care skills over other occupations through 2012.

    The majority of respiratory therapists work in hospitals in medical areas of pulmonary medicine, respiratory care and anesthesiology. Other positions held were in private physicians or specialists offices or through corporations that provide respiratory equipment for use in the home that requires instruction to and follow up with the consumer.

    With accreditation, the job description of a respiratory therapist also includes the fact that you can expect to earn an annual salary in the range of $42,000 to $56,000 in addition to paid holidays, paid vacation and health insurance benefits.

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