Respiratory Therapists have a very important, major job duty: to assist patients who suffer from cardiopulmonary problems, such as infections and chronic diseases. Their work is always performed under the direct supervision of a physician, and their responsibilities encompass evaluating, diagnosing, and treating disorders that affect breathing.
Respiratory therapists perform diagnostic cardiopulmonary evaluations and respiration therapy treatments designed to treat patients with deficiencies and dysfunctions of the cardiopulmonary system. Cardiopulmonary evaluation involves acquiring, analyzing, and interpreting data that is obtained from diagnostic tests and specimens.
Jobs for respiratory therapists, although largely found in critical care hospitals, may be located in a number of healthcare settings, such as skilled nursing homes, surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, rehabilitation centers, sleep disorder clinics, and patient transport systems (e.g., ambulance and life flight services). As such, job duties differ according to facility.
For example, respiratory therapists in acute-care settings are responsible for operating and maintaining acute care ventilators for both short- and long-term mechanical ventilation of adults, pediatrics, and neonates, while respiratory therapists in skilled nursing homes are often responsible for administering oxygen therapy and aerosol therapy, airway maintenance, and tracheal suctioning.
Work settings for Respiratory Therapists may include hospitals, free standing ERs, skilled nursing facilities, sleep clinics, and physician's offices.
Duties include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting and monitoring prescribed therapeutic and diagnostic procedures
- Maintaining artificial and natural airways
- Performing pulmonary function testing
- Performing hemodynamic monitoring and other physiologic monitoring
- Documenting information to a patient’s medical record/maintaining accurate and complete records
- Communicating assessments and updates with members of the healthcare team
- Assembling, maintaining, and calibrating respiratory therapy equipment
- Identifying and remedying respiratory care equipment malfunctions
- Communicating with patients and patient families
- Educating patients on disease prevention and lung health
- Educating patients on the use of inhalers and inhalation devices
- Performing testing to assist in diagnosis, treatment, and research
- Application and monitoring of medical gases
- Environmental control systems
- Humidification systems
- Inhaled medications
- Ventilator support
- Bronchopulmonary drainage/hygiene
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Postural drainage
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Airway management
- 1+ years of recent work experience as a Respiratory Therapist (excluding clinical rotations)
- RRT required (NBRC)
- State Licensure
- Current BLS
- Current TB Screen
- Valid Photo Identification/Driver's License
- Successful completion of a Background Check and Medely's screening process