Respiratory Therapy Schools

It is easy to overlook the importance of breathing. It comes naturally and requires no voluntary effort. The respiratory system is one of the body’s most vulnerable areas, however, responsible for delivering vital oxygen through the blood stream to the organs of the body. Even a brief suspension of function due to lack of oxygen can lead to internal injury, coma, or even death. The lungs are the “motor” of the respiratory system, but the mouth, diaphragm, trachea and nose all play important roles. These areas are especially vulnerable because of their exposure to outside bacteria and other elements. Problems with respiratory systems are on the rise. Asthma is one of the more obvious problems that affect the respiratory system. As a matter of fact, the number of asthma sufferers worldwide is expected to almost double in the coming years. Some of the causes are environmental, with air quality standards in many areas either decreasing or remaining stagnant. Emphysema is another disease that affects many. Lung disorders can lead to cardiac arrest, brain death, and stroke.

Respiratory therapists and their associates help people struggling with diseases and disorders of the respiratory system. They learn their specialty at respiratory therapy schools and college degree programs. Respiratory therapists generally have at least a bachelor’s degree although there are many routes to licensure. These are medical degrees, so they include courses in physiology, pharmacology, chemistry, and a variety of general sciences. Degree candidates will likely study the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory illness. They will also take courses like CPR and disease prevention. Classes will require strong math and science skills. Many classes are available, both in the classroom and online. Clinical classes that require practical participation may be the most important ones a student takes, as they teach the real-world skills that respiratory therapists need.

Respiratory therapists, like many health care professionals, must get licensed by state-approved associations. These associations are comprised of therapists, physicians, and other stakeholders who oversee the standards that the profession believes are best practices. This licensure process requires education, professional training, and passing an examination. The more efficient way to achieve licensure is to complete a rigorous degree program that teaches the information covered on the exam. Therapists must renew their licensure on a regular basis to ensure they keep their skills current. It also encourages them to expand their skill set and have the opportunity for advancement.

Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals in respiratory care, pulmonary care, or anesthesiology. There are areas of specialization for therapists that can give a boost in salary and responsibility. Children suffer disproportionately from respiratory issues, and pediatric therapists who work primarily with children and must take extra coursework in their specialty. Furthermore, they must be ready for the special demands involved with caring for young patients who cannot communicate their problems as clearly as adults. There is also a chance to work with the elderly by specializing in gerontological respiratory care. There is a growing demand for therapists in residential and nursing care facilities to help aging patients with their breathing issues. Other therapists work with patients after an illness or injury by providing physiotherapy to strengthen lungs and improve breathing. There is, of course, also opportunity for those who provide emergency respiratory care, helping those who cannot breathe or are in extreme danger.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014