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.Number of Jobs in 2010: 504
Number of Jobs in 2020: 711
Yearly Job Growth Rate: 41.1
Annual Openings: 31
Entry Wage: $21.18
Median Wage: $25.72
Education Requirement: Associate's degree
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- Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.
- Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
- Relay blood analysis results to a physician.
- Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
- Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.
- Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.
- Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.
- Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.
- 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.
- 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.
- Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
- Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
- Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
- Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.
- Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.
- Perform endotracheal intubation to maintain open airways for patients who are unable to breathe on their own.
- Monitor cardiac patients, using electrocardiography devices, such as a holter monitor.
Indivduals currently working as Respiratory Therapists can easily transition into any of the occupations lisated below.
- Respiratory Therapy Technicians
- Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
- Radiation Therapists
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
- Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses*
- Surgical Technologists*
- Neurodiagnostic Technologists
- Radiologic Technicians
- Radiologic Technologists
- Medical Appliance Technicians
* The occupation mentioned is in demand in the state of Maine, and is projected to employ new workers each year.
Occupational data obtained from the Maine Department of Labor and O*NET
Last updated on January 29, 2013