5 Important Facts to Know Before You Learn How to Become a Respiratory Therapist
Breathing is obviously a crucial part of life, and so when a person’s breathing is inhibited their overall health is greatly impacted. In healthcare, Respiratory Therapists are responsible for evaluating patients experiencing breathing difficulties and helping to provide the care they need through precise treatment plans. While helping people breathe helps shape a rewarding career in healthcare, you should consider these 5 important things to know BEFORE you learn how to become a Respiratory Therapist, which we gathered from Chandler Jones, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, CPFT, a Registered Respiratory Therapist practicing in Tennessee:
- A healthcare career as a Respiratory Therapist comes with great reward
Helping others to establish functional breathing patterns can be extremely rewarding. Just as Physicians are critical in emergency medical situations, so are Respiratory Therapists when stabilizing or resuscitating patients. Can there be any better feeling than knowing you helped someone start breathing again?
“I have never in my life experienced a career as rewarding as being a Respiratory Therapist,” Chandler Jones, RRT told CareersinHealthcare.com. “Imagine that a patient comes to the emergency department fighting for their life and their heart isn’t beating, their lungs are not inflating and they are literally not alive. The Respiratory Therapist will be ready to care for that patient before they even arrive.”
- This career also comes with great responsibility
Despite common misconceptions Respiratory Care Practitioners do much more than merely “help patients breathe.” Rather, they are one of the first professionals on-site when a patient is rushed to an emergency department, during allergic reactions, cases of illness or anything else airway related.
These professionals must therefore possess critical thinking skills and extreme attention to detail to ensure that proper care is administered which is unique to each patient’s needs. Furthermore, in those crucial seconds when administering or maintaining intubation tubes, the life of a patient essentially rests in the hands of the RT.
“I feel like some people have the wrong idea about respiratory care and Respiratory Therapists,” Jones expressed.“Some folks just can’t handle the responsibility of being another person’s life support.”
- Many employers are now requiring registration, rather than just certification
Although in the past an RT could find employment after becoming certified, today more employers are requiring that these specialists become “registered” as well. There are many benefits to requiring this advanced level of credentials. The professional can pass the national voluntary multiple choice examination to gain the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential. A professional must first pass this exam to be eligible to take the national voluntary clinical simulation examination that leads to the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.
“My place of employment just announced that they are no longer hiring Certified Respiratory Therapists, but rather only Registered Respiratory Therapists” Jones explained. He supports this “good practice” as “becoming registered not only enhances the critical thinking of the Respiratory Therapist, but also grants them the ability to effectively manage in allied health”. He concludes that “Specialty credentials are essential to evolving a career as a Resp Tech.”
- Respiratory Therapists work in all healthcare settings and departments
There is constant need for RTs in all medical settings, from pediatric care to cardiology, general surgery and more. Additionally, the work environment of a Respiratory Therapist can include hospitals, home care and nursing care facilities. “Respiratory Therapists are all over the hospital, but a major need is in the intensive care units (ICU),” Jones stressed.
While some responsibilities differ between each setting and department, general methodologies and respiratory subject knowledge are needed across all areas of healthcare. Therefore, these professionals must pay close attention to the wide varieties in medical needs of all potential patients, while also mastering their individual specialty programs.
- Remaining open to education is as important as helping teach others
To be successful and effective as a Respiratory Therapist, these professionals must excel during their respective educational programs. Areas of study which must be mastered prior to treating patients include cardiopulmonary diagnostics, respiratory anatomy and physiology, pediatric and neonatal respiratory care and how to operate respiratory care equipment.
After mastering these areas of study, gaining registration and finding employment, Respiratory Therapists must also be able to use their respiratory knowledge to educate patients on how to best maintain their own respiratory care.
“In theory, if everyone had the knowledge of a Physician no one would be sick,” Jones stated. “Respiratory Therapists must prioritize educating their patients with every open opportunity. To do this, they must take their academics seriously and listen to any and all advice.”
Does this career in healthcare sound interesting? Learn more about the educational requirements to become a Respiratory Therapist today!