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What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do on a Daily Basis?

When considering a job in healthcare or another field, it can be very helpful to get an overview of what’s involved in the position and get a sense of what a typical day might look like. It’s important to note that with respiratory therapy, as with other jobs in health care, the specifics will depend on the workplace. For example, a respiratory therapist who works in a hospital may have very different days from a counterpart who works in a clinic. Similarly, a respiratory therapist in a pediatric practice may have very different days from one who works in a nursing home.

Range of Ages

Respiratory therapists can work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, long-term care facilities, and more, and they may also work with a range of ages. As a profession, respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages, from premature infants with underdeveloped lungs to senior citizens with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Regardless of the ages of the patients or the setting, it’s important for respiratory therapists to have certain qualities. Hard skills include science and math skills, and it’s important for respiratory therapists to be problem solvers. Soft skills include compassion, attention to detail, people skills, and patience.

Conducting Tests

In many cases, a variety of tests may be necessary to determine a patient’s diagnosis. Respiratory therapists perform various tests, including Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) to measure the speed and amount of air exhaled, Arterial Blood Gases (ABGs) to measure the patient’s metabolic status, and Transcutaneous CO2 monitoring to monitor the patient’s carbon dioxide levels.

This can be a key component of a respiratory therapist’s job; in addition to leading to a diagnosis, the tests provide other important information, as well. The respiratory therapist is competent in the skillful use of advanced diagnostic tools to accurately diagnose the severity of respiratory dysfunction in neonatal, pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients.

Treating Patients

As with other jobs in healthcare, respiratory therapy involves a blend of technology and patient interaction. When a respiratory therapist is treating patients, many functions involve the use of technology; specific treatments may include administration of oxygen, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, management of mechanical ventilators, and administering drugs to the lungs.

Depending on where a respiratory therapist works, they may treat people with pulmonary or cardiopulmonary issues, lung cancer, asthma, congenital defects, or complications from a heart attack, stroke, near drowning, or other trauma.

Do You Want to Be a Respiratory Therapist?

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. Are you considering a career as a respiratory therapist? We’ll be here when you’re ready to move on in that career, so call us at 310.436.3650 when it’s time. We’d love to help you take the next step!