Respiratory therapists work alongside physicians in diagnosing, treating and managing individuals with breathing difficulties and pulmonary disorders. One responsibility of a respiratory therapist is to measure an individual's lung capacity to determine whether the lungs are functioning properly. They will also perform tests to ensure that there are the proper amounts of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases within the blood. If a problem is found, respiratory therapists will recommend the best route of treatment for an individual. There are various treatments to choose from. One form of treatment involves using equipment to directly administer oxygen to a patient. This can be done through the use of an oxygen mask or by connecting an individual to a ventilator that delivers oxygen directly to the lungs. Another form of treatment involves administering aerosol medications that assist in the breathing process. Respiratory therapists may also use rehabilitation activities that stimulate the breathing process. Respiratory therapists often act in a teaching role when instructing patients on how to use the equipment, medications and exercises to ensure proper breathing.
Respiratory therapists help individuals of all ages with diseases such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, etc. They also do such things as helping premature babies to breathe properly or helping to restore breathing in emergency situations. Working environments may include hospitals, home health, and physician offices. Educational Requirements and Resources
In terms of education, this position requires a minimum of an associate's degree (approximately two years in length) from a nationally accredited respiratory therapy program. After the education process, an individual may take a national examination to become a certified respiratory therapist. This certification is almost always required by employers. Certified respiratory therapists who have achieved additional amounts of education and experience may take additional examinations to become registered respiratory therapists. In the state of Ohio, individuals must be licensed to work as respiratory therapists. To view licensure information, please visit the Ohio Respiratory Care Board
. To learn more about choosing respiratory therapy as a career, please visit the American Association For Respiratory Care
. Please use the links provided below to learn more about specific educational programs pertaining to this field.