Respiratory Therapy FAQ's
What do Respiratory Therapists do? Watch a Video
Respiratory Therapists (RT's) care for patients who have trouble breathing; for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, motor vehicle accidents, or shock.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median annual wage of respiratory therapists was $55,870 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. If you choose to stay in the Southeast Kansas area, the average median salary is about $40,000.
Respiratory therapists typically do the following:
Interview and examine patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
Disease management for patients with cardiopulmonary disease
Consult with physicians to develop patient treatment plans
Perform complex diagnostic tests such as electrocardiograms, arterial blood gas analysis, sleep studies, and measuring lung capacity.
Treat patients, using a variety of methods, including mechanical ventilation, chest physiotherapy, and medications.
Monitor and record the progress of treatment.
Teach patients and family members how to use treatments.
Employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow by 28 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increase incidence of respiratory conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia, respiratory disorders that permanently damage the lungs or restrict lung function. These factors will lead to an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals and nursing homes. In addition, advances in preventing and detecting disease, improved medications, and more sophisticated treatments will increase the demand for respiratory therapists. Other conditions affecting the general populations, such as smoking, air pollution, and respiratory emergencies, will continue to create demand for respiratory therapists.