Saturday, February 13, 2016

Respiratory Therapists: Helping You Breathe Easy

Breathing is something the vast majority of us take for granted, as we do it nearly every second of every day. However, there are many Americans who have difficulty breathing, whether it is caused by injury, age, or diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or lung cancer. These people often end up in the hospital, doctor's office, or clinic and are treated by breathing care specialists known as Respiratory Therapists. These professionals care specifically for patients that have trouble breathing, from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients who are suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

Respiratory therapists, of whom there were 120,700 in the US in 2014, use various tests to evaluate patients. For example, therapists test lung capacity by having patients breathe into an instrument that measures the volume & flow of oxygen when they exhale and inhale. Respiratory therapists may also take blood samples and use a blood gas analyzer to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. The field of respiratory therapy is a growing one, and job prospects are expected to continuously improve by 12% from 2014 through 2024. The aging population will lead to an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals. A growing emphasis on reducing re-admissions at hospitals may result in more demand for respiratory therapists in nursing homes and in doctors' offices. Respiratory therapists earn more than the average American, as their mean hourly wage is $28.12 compared to $22.71 for the average occupation. Becoming a respiratory therapist takes a mix of classroom education, clinical training, and licensing exams. The minimum degree required is an associate's degree, but some jobs require a bachelor's. Respiratory therapists require licensing in all states but Alaska.

If you are interested in learning more about the Respiratory Therapy profession, check out our fact-filled infographic below. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages will be full of respiratory therapy content all week, so be sure to keep checking in. And don't forget to register for the free beta at to help take care of all your continuing education needs!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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