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What is a Respiratory Therapist?

Updated on February 26, 2016

 Someone that is involved with the area of Respiratory Therapist work has a great challenge in terms of what their job encompasses. Yet they have the realization that what they do offers very valuable services to those that need help with their breathing. The body is a delicate system and getting enough air is important for overall functionality.

When someone isn’t breathing like they should it could be due to an isolated incident or to a serious health problem. One of the main duties of a Respiratory Therapist is to identify what the underlying cause is. At the same time it is to determine what should be done to remedy the situation. It may be a solution that only has to be followed for a couple of weeks.

 For example when someone has suffered from some type of trauma they may need help with their breathing while the body heals from it. The same is true when someone has had surgery. A newborn may not be able to breathe on his or her own at birth. Yet in a few weeks they are thriving and able to do so.

There are serious health problems though that affect the lungs and the heart. Such breathing problems may require ongoing therapy and the use of oxygen daily in order for the person to have a decent chance of a healthy lifestyle. A Respiratory Therapist is able to assess the needs and to develop a plan of action for someone to follow if they want to b able to breathe better.

Respiratory Therapist Video

 A Respiratory Therapist works closely with other medical staff. This includes those at a hospital or doctors that refer patients for testing. Being able to communicate effectively means that this individual is able to follow the orders that have been given. They can conduct the right testing. They can also give the other medical staff efficient information to go on. Without that, it can be hard for the patient to get the level of care that they really need.

The specific role that a Respiratory Therapist will have varies based on several factors. For example the type of facility where they are working and how things are set up there. They also have regulations about what someone is able to do in terms of the education they have. For example a Respiratory Therapist with an Associates Degree is going to have less responsibility than someone with a Bachelors Degree.

 This type of work requires someone that is alert, compassionate, and is able to prioritize their work. It involves being able to make fast decisions and to help patients to understand what is taking place with them. Sometimes such as when a patient is in the ICU it can involve discussing the treatment options with the family.

This type of work involves being able to successfully operate a variety of types of technology. This should be covered in the training program that someone receives with their educational program. Then the specific equipment use can be covered in the orientation process on the job.

All of the instruments used by Respiratory Therapist helps them to give people the best chance of breathing properly. Some of the items are offered to allow them to have more oxygen coming in. Others involve removing fluid from the lungs so that the air can get in without restrictions.

The various roles that Respiratory Therapist play in a medical setting are vital to the overall care of patients. In order to work in this capacity you must have a license (except in Hawaii and Alaska).


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  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    A very interesting and well worded hub.