Respiratory therapists are professionals within the medical field. Their focus is on illnesses, emergencies, and treatments of the lungs. They can teach patients and daily caregivers in the use of life-support systems that will be kept in the home, such as keeping nebulizers and oxygen tanks in the patient’s home. They are trained to perform chest physiotherapy in order to remove mucous from the five lobes of the lungs. As a respiratory therapist, you are responsible for examining patients, coordinating with doctors, performing, diagnostic tests, and tracking patient progress, as well as, treating patients with respiratory issues while the patient is in the hospital.
If interested in a career in respiratory therapy, you will need a proper education. An associate’s degree is the minimal requirement for anyone seeking to be a respiratory therapist, but there is also a bachelor’s degree program as well. While in school, you will learn a lot about sciences such as chemistry, anatomy, and pharmacology. You’ll also take math courses. After your schooling, you will need to obtain your license through the National Board of Respiratory Care. This will require testing through the state of Tennessee. There are two levels of certification: Certified Respiratory Therapist and Registered Respiratory Therapist.
All students in respiratory therapy programs will have to undergo clinical studies as well. Clinical studies are when a student goes into a respiratory therapy office or into a hospital and learns how to operate the equipment and administer testing on real patients under the supervision of a licensed and experienced respiratory therapist. This is a great way to get real world experience and application of what the student is learning or has already learned. This experience is valuable because new respiratory therapists can list it as part of their resume.
Anyone wanting to pursue a career as a respiratory therapist should enjoy helping others in their time of need. Respiratory therapists tend to have more contact with patients due to showing the patients and caregivers how to continue with treatment, and/or equipment outside of the doctor’s office or hospital.
In Tennessee, the career for respiratory therapy is quickly becoming a much more needed position in hospitals. It is estimated that there will be ten percent growth in this field over the next decade. Tennessee is a great up and coming state for the field of respiratory therapy.
According to current projection, technical positions within the healthcare industry will be among some of the fastest growing during the 2014 to 2024 decade. The population of adults 65 and over is projected to grow by over 10 million by 2024. This population increase will result in a greater need for medical services and trained individuals capable of taking care of those who suffer from respiratory issues.
When you make the choice to pursue a career in the practice of respiratory therapy, you will find yourself in the position to begin pursuing a career that is geared toward compassion and problem solving. In order to be successful, you are going to be required to discover new techniques of your own accord as well as learn the varied techniques created by others in the field. You will need to possess knowledge of past industry trends as well as a distinct understanding of recent and changing industry trends. People who enjoy and are keen on the complexities of the respiratory system are always needed and best suited for this kind of career. When beginning to enter into the practice of respiratory therapy, it is important to understand that you will be subject to peruse a vast catalogue of scientific and medical textbooks and journals in order to become properly educated as to the details of the study and how it works; it is an important profession that is not embarked upon lightly.
Venturing into the practice of respiratory therapy is a competitive undertaking that tends to open many doors in the professional life of those who choose to work in the profession. Given the lucrative nature of the occupation, most people taking part in the field will be ferociously competing against you. Once again, the client base is large; the population is aging and the reforms to federal health insurance policies ensure that you will not have a shortage of work. Your vast quantity of work will leave you open to a wider margin of error. It is such that you should keep up to date with health codes in order to not incur a malpractice lawsuit.
Respiratory therapists in the state of Tennessee are employed in nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and hospitals. Hospitals are the primary employer, and shifts may be worked days, nights, weekdays, and/or weekends, and holidays. The same work hours can be expected for some nursing homes, and even in home care. Best way to think of it is if a hospital is open then they are in need of someone to work. Especially the need for specialists like respiratory therapists. Most work is on a full-time basis. Four out of five respiratory therapists are employed in hospitals. Outside of hospitals respiratory therapists are needed in outpatient surgery centers, consumer goods rentals, local government positions, nursing homes, home health care, and even in patient transportation.
Physical stamina will be required due to the therapist being on their feet and moving for the majority of their shift. One will need compassion and interpersonal skills to work as a respiratory therapist. Patients will need time and understanding by others to process the information you give them. Unfortunately, this job is not filled with giving people great news about their current condition. It is filled with the opposite. As a therapist, you will need to be able to assist the patient with getting through this grief, shock, or sometimes lack of emotion, as best you can. Problem-solving skills are a must. You will need to be able to test patients and help the physicians and nurses that you are working with to come to a diagnosis about the patient. Sometimes you may need to give you opinion on what steps to take to treat the patient. Science and math skills are also extremely important. Respiratory therapists are extremely well versed in anatomy, physiology, and other sciences. You will need your math skills in order to give proper dosage of medication to the patient.
Even though four out of five respiratory therapists work in a hospital, this does not mean that is the only path you have to take. Long term care therapists typically work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Many of these therapists work with more chronic respiratory diseases. There are even traveling healthcare agencies that hire respiratory care therapists.
Neonatal-pediatric respiratory therapists are a specialty within the field. They often work in the neonatal ward of hospitals. They work with newborns, infants, toddlers, and older children. Being a neonatal-pediatric respiratory therapist often requires training and certification as both a certified respiratory therapist (CRT) and a registered respiratory therapist (RRT). Those who work with younger, asthmatic patients may pursue the asthma educator certified credential (AE-C).
Surface and Air Transport Therapists are grouped with others who are responsible for the transportation of critically ill patients. This specialized respiratory therapist travels in air craft or ground transportation with the patient, as well as with nurses, EMTs, and physicians to keep the patient alive while in transport to a hospital. Important to note that surface and air transport therapists are often flying or otherwise in transit sometimes for long hours.
Pulmonary Rehab Therapists mostly work with patients who have been diagnosed with a chronic lung illness, COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and pulmonary fibrosis. These therapists work typically in rehabilitation centers, although some are employed at hospitals as well.
Polysomnography is another specialized field for respiratory therapists. In this field, you will specialize in sleep medicine therapy. Typical dealings for respiratory therapists in this field is sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders that are more prevalent during sleep. It is important to note that most of the work schedule for this position will be night shifts.
Pulmonary Diagnostics are therapists who utilize pulmonary function testing to diagnosis illnesses in patients. Diagnostics typically are used for diagnosing the more difficult ailments, along with physicians, and ensuring proper treatment for the patient. Diagnostic therapists often search for ailments either unknown or that are difficult to diagnosis. If you are interested in this path, then you must gain the knowledge of all pulmonary illnesses and know the signs and symptoms.
As is the case with many careers in the medical field, respiratory therapy has a projected growth rate that is above average. The current prediction is 12% from 2014 to 2024. As mentioned earlier, the increase in the adults over the age of 65 will result in a greater need for medical services as cases of pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other issues of lung function increase. This equates to more jobs and better job security for those already in the medical profession. Specialists, such as respiratory therapists, are in even greater demand. Federal health insurance reform is also expected to increase the number of patients able to access health care in the future. It is estimated in the future that respiratory therapist will be needed more in doctor’s offices and in nursing homes than in actual hospitals. This will open the field for new respiratory therapists to get job placement.
As of 2015, Tennessee had the fourth highest concentration of jobs and location quotients among the states.
The annual mean wage in Tennessee for respiratory therapists was $49,790, an average of $23.90 an hour, as of 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. Of course this could go up if you specialize in a particular field, or become employed with a particular hospital, or office, to $80,440 per year. While Tennessee is among the lower paying states in the union for respiratory therapists, it is quickly moving up as the one the higher paying medical professions in the state. This is partially because of the amount of respiratory therapists located in the state, but as previously discussed, the current estimated growth for this profession is 12% in the next ten years shows the need for more respiratory therapist in the state of Tennessee. Needless to say, the need will go up for qualified respiratory therapists, and so will the salary.
Respiratory therapists are required to have an Associate’s degree, though some employer’s give preference to those with a Bachelor’s degree. So in order to make yourself more marketable, you may want to consider studying for your Bachelor's degree at some point. Becoming a certified respiratory therapist requires completion of an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree. They can then participate in a national voluntary multiple-choice examination. Successful completion results in earning the credential of certified respiratory therapist (CRT). Once this examination has been passed, the RT can choose to take a national voluntary clinical simulation exam. Successful completion results in earning the credential of registered respiratory therapist (RRT). Those who have their CRT or RRT credentials can then choose further specializations. Among these are the adult critical care specialty (ACCS) credential, the sleep disorder specialty (SDS) credential, the neonatal/pediatric specialty (NPS) credential, and the pulmonary function technologist (PFT) credential. The PFT credential requires completion of a two-cut score exam. The lower cut score results in a certified pulmonary function technologist (CPFT) credential. The higher cut score results in becoming a registered pulmonary function technician (RPFT).
The state of Tennessee requires respiratory therapists to pursue annual continuing education. Twelve contact hours must be completed in a subject, or subjects, related to the field. Documentation proving that classes were attended and completed should be retained for at least three years. They must be submitted to the Board of Respiratory Care if requested during the verification process. Many of the state colleges offer continuing education credits, but make sure that you ensure they are accredited.