I let you breathe! Respiratory Therapists

Disclaimer: I am not a respiratory therapist – the information presented is from talking with RTs.

Another group of specialized health care professionals that are often hidden behind the forefront of doctors are Respiratory Therapists.

A confession: I have never heard of this profession until I met two people in this career. This opened my mind to the fact that university undergraduates are truly not exposed to the diversity of health care careers that are out there. I am not sure if it’s the jaded ideal of science students and the triangle: medical school, pharmacy school and dental school or just a flawed university career services system. Regardless, of which case it is – explore this career down below!

Who are the Respiratory Therapists?
Respiratory Therapists also referred to as RTs are a group of health care professionals that specialize in cardiopulmonary care (heart and lungs). They are in charge of the evaluation, treatment and maintenance of ill patients suffering from any cardiopulmonary distress. RTs can work in hospitals or out-patient clinics like sleep apnea clinics.

Why can’t doctors just do this job of RTs?
The most simply answer is: doctors just can’t do everything. They need help – there are always a shortage of doctors and with their busy schedule, they just can’t be in all places at once. Just think of nurses, why are there nurses?
Especially, with cardiopulmonary cases – these are very acute and serious cases. If doctors are busy tending to another emergency then RTs are trained to be able to tend to the care of these patients.

Some examples of situations that require RTs are:
1. Asthma individuals – administer inhaled gases
2. Emergency situations – CPR
3. Specialized treatments for cardiopulmonary diseases such as emphysema / cystic fibrosis

A day in a life of an RT:
If working in a hospital, it is usually 12-hour shift work and you are usually working in acute and life-threatening cases. Therefore, it can get really busy or if all things go well your shift might be smooth sailing. In outpatient clinics, I believe it has more of a regularity – 9 – 5 shifts and you could be dealing with minute cases. Please check out this video below from Amanda’s Youtube – to understand more about the RT life.

Education Requirements:
These programs are Advanced Diploma Programs – this means that a high school level entry is sufficient enough to enter an RT program. However, majority of students that enter have a undergraduate degree or above completed.

If you are interesting in learning more about this career, here are a list of resources to view:
1. The Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists

2. College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario

3. Check this blog out as being a Respiratory Therapy Student – click here

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