Respiratory Therapists

Description

Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.

Tasks

  • Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
  • Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, or blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.
  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, or aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.
  • Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.
  • Relay blood analysis results to a physician.
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures or related duties.
  • Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
  • Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises or the use of medications or respiratory equipment.
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.
  • Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
  • Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.
  • Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
  • Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
  • Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
  • Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.

Knowledge

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
English Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

Skills

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Abilities

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Work Activities

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Work Context

Face-to-Face Discussions
How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
Telephone
How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
Exposed to Disease or Infections
How often does this job require exposure to disease/infections?
Contact With Others
How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled
How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
Frequency of Decision Making
How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
Physical Proximity
To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
Work With Work Group or Team
How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate
How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results
How do the decisions an employee makes impact the results of co-workers, clients or the company?

Interests

Social
Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
Investigative
Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Realistic
Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
Conventional
Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
Enterprising
Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
Artistic
Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Work Style

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
Self Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Work Values

Relationships
Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
Support
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
Recognition
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
Working Conditions
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Achievement
Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Independence
Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Lay Titles

Certified Respiratory Therapist
Certified Respiratory Therapist Technician
Clinical Coordinator of Respiratory Therapy
Director of Cardiopulmonary Services
Inhalation Therapist
Oxygen Therapist
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
Respiratory Care Practitioner
Respiratory Therapist (RT)
Staff Respiratory Therapist

National Wages and Employment Info

Median Wages (2008):
$26.86 hourly, $55,870 annual.
Employment (2008):
116,960 employees