Guide To Become A Respiratory Therapist

by admin on March 27, 2012


The profession of a respiratory therapist is relatively short, in terms of history as in other medical fields. Some fields of medicine have been practiced in one form or another since the dawn of civilization. But to those considering a respiratory therapist salary for a career, this clinical profession is less than seventy-five years old.

This blog will help you understand this profession by enlightening you about the history of this occupation, how it came to be and who were it’s original practitioners. I will also serve up the story on education, training, and salary for those who may consider this healthcare field for a possible career.

Yes, I know that there are any number of avenues that can be taken in order to amass this kind of information, but the advantage you will have with this article, is the simple fact that all, if not a majority of the research has already been completed and compiled into this comprehensive and easy to understand blog.

I’m confident that not only will you have your questions answered, but I will also point you in the right direction if I don’t have an answer. Let’s get started, shall we?

The History Behind Respiratory Therapy

Although the practice of respiratory therapy as we know it today is relatively young, ancient civilizations dealt with respiratory illness and disease similar to today’s COPD through a variety of treatments.

The Chinese used a combination of herbal and acupuncture treatments to provide relief. By using ancient Chinese holistic methods, their medicine was able to help restore normal function to a patient’s respiratory system, and inhibit inflammatory cells, decrease airway hyper-reactivity and pulmonary hypertension, as well as improve blood circulation, and adjust organic immunity.

The ancient Egyptians believed that raw garlic was the best healing agent for respiratory problems and routinely administered the plant to asthmatics and to those suffering with bronchial-pulmonary complaints.

Living in Egypt would have exposed its population to any number of respiratory problems. Inhaling most types of mineral particles, including sand (called Silicosis), can damage the lungs and respiratory tract. It is little wonder then, that the treatments of lung and respiratory illnesses were important to the ancient Egyptian physicians.

The ancient Mayans used sweat baths similar to saunas as a treatment for respiratory ailments and colds to sweat out the body’s impurities and provide lung and tracheal relief. The Greeks and Romans also used similar remedies to provide relief to those affected by respiratory infirmities.

The Description and Projected Outlook

When looking from the perspective of today’s modern medical care, the therapist, who may also be known as a respiratory care practitioner, may treat, and care for all patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary afflictions.

By practicing under the control and direction of a physician, the respiratory therapist job description is, to assume principal responsibility for all respiratory care, therapeutic treatments, and diagnostic procedures for patients under their care.

To treat their patients, a therapist may use various levels of oxygen or oxygen mixtures, chest physiotherapy, and aerosol medications, which are actually liquid medications that are suspended in a gas or mist, and then inhaled.

The types of patient can range from premature newborn infants whose arrested lung development is affected by bronchopulmonary dysplasia, to the elderly who may be suffering from lung diseases such as chronic asthma, emphysema or COPD.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, this profession is expected to experience growth of at least 21% over the next decade and beyond. This bodes well for those looking for job growth and stability over the lifetime of a career.

Part of the expected expansion will come from substantial growth in the middle-aged and elderly (read baby boomer) populations, an expansion that will heighten the incidence of cardiopulmonary disease in America.

Qualifications And Academics

For those looking to gain quick entry into this profession, the minimum requirement is a two-year Associate’s degree. But before you start jumping for joy, you should know that your career would be decidedly better if you acquire a Bachelor’s or perhaps a Masters Degree from an accredited respiratory therapist school, to ensure a potential for eventual management and the significant salaries that come with such responsibility.

The latest statistics from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) show that, 31 entry-level and 346 advanced respiratory therapy programs were accredited in the United States as of 2008.

Additionally, all but two states require licensure, and licensure is usually based, on meeting the requirements for certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). This association offers the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential to those who graduate from programs accredited by CAAHEP, or the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) and who also pass an examination

The NBRC also offers the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) to CRTs who have graduated from advanced programs (read BS or MS degrees) and pass two separate advanced examinations. Supervisory positions and intensive-care specialties usually require the RRT designation.

A Look At The Average Salary

The industries that employ the most clinicians for this profession are, General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, Specialty Hospitals, Nursing Care Facilities, and Private Physicians Clinics.

The top paying industries for this occupation are, Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools $66,500 (Average Annual Wage), Local Government $63,000, Employment Services $61,000, Private Medical Clinics $60,000, and Commercial and Industrial Equipment Rental & Leasing $59,000.

As of May 2010, the states with the highest annual average wages were, California $68,000, Nevada $67,000, New Jersey $66,000, Maryland $66,000, and Connecticut $64,500.

This should give you a pretty good start in your quest to determine if this occupation is for you. As you can see, the duties and activities as well as the salary for a respiratory therapist are such that a long and productive career can be yours, if this becomes the profession you decide to choose.

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