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Respiratory Therapist

A Respiratory Therapist is responsible for the care of patients who have breathing disorders. This position is available at hospitals, private practices and as an individual care provider. Individuals may be placed in a particular department, such as the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Emergency Room (ER) or Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Job Duties:

If you have a good background in the functioning of the human pulmonary system and would like to work in a position that allows you to assist patients every day and often save lives, you might be interested in a Respiratory Therapist career.

Responsibilities include:

1) Working together with doctors, physicians and nurses to discuss, concur and provide care to the patient.
2) Performing tests such as electrocardiogram and lung capacity tests to determine patients' cardiopulmonary capabilities.
3) Administering suitable drugs, conducting procedures such as mucus removal or operating equipment to assist the patient with his breathing.
4) Monitoring and recording the patient's response to different procedures.
5) Explaining procedures and after care needs to patients and their families.
6) Teaching breathing exercises to patients.
7) Analysing patients' blood samples in a blood gas analyser and providing feedback to the treating physician.
8) Ensuring that respiratory equipment is maintained in good condition.

Knowledge and Skills:

1) A good Respiratory Therapist will have the ability to stay calm in emergencies and take decisions that could save a person's life.
2) Adequate knowledge to operate respiratory equipment, such as ventilators, aerosol generators, therapeutic gas administration devices etc.

Educational Qualifications and Experience:

1) A Bachelor of Science or Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy is an essential Respiratory Therapist qualification.
2) While entry level positions do exist, many jobs require advanced training of 10 to 15 years.
3) There are several important certifications which are highly valued, and often essential, depending on the area the candidate will be working in. These include Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.

Salary and Benefits:

1) The industry average hourly rate is in the range of $20 to $28, while overtime rates are between $25 and $45. Annual salaries are in the region of $40,000 to $70,000 on an average.
2) Respiratory Therapist benefits usually include 401(k) or 401(b), medical and life insurance, paid sick leave and vacation, flexible work hours and education or training reimbursement.