Respiratory Therapists, CRT, RRT Jobs, Medical Jobs
Job opportunities will be very good, especially for therapists with
cardiopulmonary care skills or experience working with infants. Employment of
respiratory therapists is expected to increase faster than average for all
occupations through the year 2014, because of substantial growth in the numbers
of the middle-aged and elderly population.The
respiratory therapy specialty is
included here along with a sampling of resources from the all new 4th
edition of Health Care Job Explosion! and features
respiratory therapists working conditions, job outlook, training, employment,
earnings, and related occupations. Occupational groups are divided into primary and related occupations
so that individuals can investigate other fields for additional job
opportunities. Respiratory therapist jobs,CRT
and RRT jobs, are available in most
communities and all major medical facilities.
Damp started out as a medical assistant and graduated in 1997 with high
honors and initially worked at a Primary Care Center with HighMark Blue Cross
Blue Shield. After her first year, she transferred within the company to
Zubritzky and Christy OB-GYN. "I enjoyed my job and worked in the field for
almost 10 years but found myself complacent and knew it was time for a change."
"I explored various career options using my father's book and discovered several
interesting career choices. My first preference was nursing but my goal was to
start the program immediately and I would have had to wait a year to enter the
nursing program at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). I
discovered two other possibilities, one was respiratory therapist the other was
ultrasound technician. As you can guess, I picked respiratory therapist, applied
and was accepted into the program and I am grateful that I selected this
rewarding medical field."
Sabrina completed a 2 year program at Community College of Allegheny County
that required many hours of study and dedication as well as clinical rotations
at several Pittsburgh hospitals. She explained that, "the program is designed to
be difficult and requires a personal commitment and seriousness to get through.
Many classmates didn’t make it through the first school year. I graduated May of
2007 and was hired at UPMC’s Shadyside hospital before I graduated and started
in May of 2007."
Sabrina is still employed at UPMC Shadyside and through her experience obtained
a casual position at Kindred hospital which is a long care facility. She is a
Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and recently passed her written registry
exam and is currently studying for the simulation exam, after which she will be
a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) by this summer. "My work entails giving
breathing treatments, pep therapy, CPT, oxygen therapy, suctioning, initiating
non invasive mechanical ventilation as well as mechanical ventilation,
administering of specialty gases such at Nitric Oxide and heleox therapy,
assisting the doctor in intubations and completing intubations independently at
Kindred, weaning patients from mechanical ventilations, tracheostomy tube care
including downsizing when needed, setting up nocturnal studies, bedside PFT's
and responding to codes and establishing the airway."
"This is a wonderful field to get into and is very gratifying to know you
participated in saving a life. This is a very rewarding field and there are many
opportunities for advancement including working as a senior therapist, manager,
working as a Sales Representative that sells respiratory equipment, and much
Respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians—also known as
respiratory care practitioners—evaluate, treat, and care for patients with
breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Practicing under the direction of
a physician, respiratory therapists assume primary responsibility for all
respiratory care therapeutic treatments and diagnostic procedures, including the
supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Respiratory therapy technicians
follow specific, well-defined respiratory care procedures under the direction of
respiratory therapists and physicians. In clinical practice, many of the daily
duties of therapists and technicians overlap; furthermore, the two have the same
education and training requirements. However, therapists generally have greater
responsibility than technicians. For example, respiratory therapists will
consult with physicians and other health care staff to help develop and modify
individual patient care plans.
Respiratory therapists also are more likely to provide complex therapy
requiring considerable independent judgment, such as caring for patients on life
support in intensive-care units of hospitals. In this statement, the term
respiratory therapists includes both respiratory therapists and respiratory
therapy technicians. Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat all types of
patients, ranging from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to
elderly people whose lungs are diseased. Respiratory therapists provide
temporary relief to patients with chronic asthma or emphysema, as well as
emergency care to patients who are victims of a heart attack, stroke, drowning,
To evaluate patients, respiratory therapists interview them, perform limited
physical examinations, and conduct diagnostic tests. For example, respiratory
therapists test patients’ breathing capacity and determine the concentration of
oxygen and other gases in patients’ blood. They also measure patients’ pH, which
indicates the acidity or alkalinity of the blood. To evaluate a patient’s lung
capacity, respiratory therapists have the patient breathe into an instrument
that measures the volume and flow of oxygen during inhalation and exhalation. By
comparing the reading with the norm for the patient’s age, height, weight, and
sex, respiratory therapists can provide information that helps determine whether
the patient has any lung deficiencies. To analyze oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH
levels, therapists draw an arterial blood sample, place it in a blood gas
analyzer, and relay the results to a physician, who then may make treatment
To treat patients, respiratory therapists use oxygen or oxygen mixtures, chest
physiotherapy, and aerosol medications. When a patient has difficulty getting
enough oxygen into his or her blood, therapists increase the patient’s
concentration of oxygen by placing an oxygen mask or nasal cannula on the
patient and set the oxygen flow at the level prescribed by a physician.
Therapists also connect patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators
that deliver pressurized oxygen to the lungs. The therapists insert a tube into
the patient’s trachea, or windpipe; connect the tube to the ventilator; and set
the rate, volume, and oxygen concentration of the oxygen mixture entering the
Therapists perform regular assessments of patients and equipment. If the
patient appears to be having difficulty breathing or if the oxygen, carbon
dioxide, or pH level of the blood is abnormal, therapists change the ventilator
setting according to the doctor’s orders or check the equipment for mechanical
problems. In home care, therapists teach patients and their families to use
ventilators and other life-support systems. In addition, therapists visit
patients several times a month to inspect and clean equipment and to ensure its
proper use. Therapists also make emergency visits if equipment problems arise.
Respiratory therapists perform chest physiotherapy on patients to remove
mucus from their lungs and make it easier for them to breathe. For example,
during surgery, anesthesia depresses respiration, so chest physiotherapy may be
prescribed to help get the patient’s lungs back to normal and to prevent
congestion. Chest physiotherapy also helps patients suffering from lung
diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, that cause mucus to collect in the lungs.
Therapists place patients in positions that help drain mucus, and then vibrate
the patients’ rib cages and instruct the patients to cough.
Respiratory therapists also administer aerosols—liquid medications suspended in
a gas that forms a mist which is inhaled—and teach patients how to inhale the
aerosol properly to ensure its effectiveness. In some hospitals, therapists
perform tasks that fall outside their traditional role. Therapists’ tasks are
expanding into areas such as pulmonary rehabilitation, smoking cessation
counseling, disease prevention, case management, and polysomnography—the
diagnosis of breathing disorders during sleep, such as apnea. Respiratory
therapists also increasingly treat critical care patients, either as part of
surface and air transport teams or as part of rapid-response teams in hospitals.
Respiratory therapists generally work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Because
hospitals operate around the clock, therapists may work evenings, nights, or
weekends. They spend long periods standing and walking between patients’ rooms.
In an emergency, therapists work under a great deal of stress. Respiratory
therapists employed in home health care must travel frequently to the homes of
Respiratory therapists are trained to work with hazardous gases stored under
pressure. Adherence to safety precautions and regular maintenance and testing of
equipment minimize the risk of injury. As in many other health occupations,
respiratory therapists run the risk of catching an infectious disease, but
carefully following proper procedures minimizes this risk.
Respiratory therapists held about 118,000 jobs in 2004. More than 4 out of 5
jobs were in hospital departments of respiratory care, anesthesiology, or
pulmonary medicine. Most of the remaining jobs were in offices of physicians or
other health practitioners, consumer-goods rental firms that supply respiratory
equipment for home use, nursing care facilities, and home health care services.
Holding a second job is relatively common for respiratory therapists. About 13
percent held another job, compared with 5 percent of workers in all occupations.
Formal training is necessary for entry into this field. Training is offered
at the postsecondary level by colleges and universities, medical schools,
vocational-technical institutes, and the Armed Forces. An associate’s degree is
required for entry into the field. Most programs award associate’s or bachelor’s
degrees and prepare graduates for jobs as advanced respiratory therapists. A
limited number of associate’s degree programs lead to jobs as entry-level
respiratory therapists. According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied
Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), 51 entry-level and 329 advanced respiratory
therapy programs were accredited in the United States, including Puerto Rico,
Among the areas of study in respiratory therapy are human anatomy and
physiology, pathophysiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and
mathematics. Other courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and
tests, equipment, patient assessment, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the
application of clinical practice guidelines, patient care outside of hospitals,
cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, respiratory health promotion and disease
prevention, and medical recordkeeping and reimbursement.
The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) offers certification and
registration to graduates of programs accredited by CAAHEP or the Committee on
Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Two credentials are awarded to
respiratory therapists who satisfy the requirements: Registered Respiratory
Therapist (RRT) and Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).
Graduates from accredited entry-level or advanced-level programs in respiratory
therapy may take the CRT examination. CRTs who
were graduated from advanced-level programs and who meet additional experience
requirements can take two separate examinations leading to the award of the
All states (except Alaska and Hawaii), the District of Columbia, and Puerto
Rico require respiratory therapists to obtain a license. Passing the CRT exam
qualifies respiratory therapists for state licenses. Also, most employers
require respiratory therapists to maintain a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
certification. Supervisory positions and intensive-care specialties usually
require the RRT or at least RRT eligibility.
Therapists should be sensitive to patients’ physical and psychological needs.
Respiratory care practitioners must pay attention to detail, follow
instructions, and work as part of a team. In addition, operating advanced
equipment requires proficiency with computers.
High school students interested in a career in respiratory care should take
courses in health, biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Respiratory
care involves basic mathematical problem solving and an understanding of
chemical and physical principles. For example, respiratory care workers must be
able to compute dosages of medication and calculate gas concentrations.
Respiratory therapists advance in clinical practice by moving from general care
to the care of critically ill patients who have significant problems in other
organ systems, such as the heart or kidneys. Respiratory therapists, especially
those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees, also may advance to supervisory or
managerial positions in a respiratory therapy department. Respiratory therapists
in home health care and equipment rental firms may become branch managers. Some
respiratory therapists advance by moving into teaching positions.
Job opportunities are expected to be very good, especially for respiratory
therapists with cardiopulmonary care skills or experience working with infants.
Employment of respiratory therapists is expected to increase faster than average
for all occupations through the year 2014, because of substantial growth in the
numbers of the middle-aged and elderly population—a development that will
heighten the incidence of cardiopulmonary disease—and because of the expanding
role of respiratory therapists in the early detection of pulmonary disorders,
case management, disease prevention, and emergency care.
Older Americans suffer most from respiratory ailments and cardio-pulmonary
diseases such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. As
their numbers increase, the need for respiratory therapists will increase as
well. In addition, advances in inhalable medications and in the treatment of
lung transplant patients, heart attack and accident victims, and premature
infants (many of whom are dependent on a ventilator during part of their
treatment) will increase the demand for the services of respiratory care
Although hospitals will continue to employ the vast majority of therapists, a
growing number can expect to work outside of hospitals in home health care
services, offices of physicians or other health practitioners, or consumer-goods
Median annual earnings of respiratory therapists were $43,140 in May 2004.
The middle 50 percent earned between $37,650 and $50,860. The lowest 10 percent
earned less than $32,220, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,580.
In general medical and surgical hospitals, median annual earnings of respiratory
therapists were $43,140 in May 2004.
Median annual earnings of respiratory therapy technicians were $36,740 in May
2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,490 and $43,830. The lowest 10
percent earned less than $24,640, and the highest 10 percent earned more than
$52,280. Median annual earnings of respiratory therapy technicians employed in
general medical and surgical hospitals were $36,990 in May 2004.
Resume Writing Service - Professionally package your health care resume
for entry level, standard, and executive positions.
American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) - 9425 N.
MacArthur Blvd. Suite 100, Irving, Texas 75063; 972/243-2272. (
email@example.com ) Take their “Be an RT” quiz in the Career tab, where
there is also information on education for the career and an employment
opportunities section. The Education tab has a listing of accredited 2-year and
4-year RT college programs searchable by state and a scholarships section.
Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) -
1248 Harwood Rd., Bedford, TX 76021; 817/283-2835. Web site located at
accrediting agency for respiratory therapy educational programs has listings of
both entry level and advanced practitioner educational programs by state.
National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) - 8310 Nieman
Road., Lenexa, Kansas 66214; 913/599-4200. http://www.nbrc.org , firstname.lastname@example.org
Accrediting agency for respiratory therapists. Web site has exam schedules and
Respiratory Therapists, CRT, RRT Jobs, Medical Jobs