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Career as a Respiratory therapist

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Respiratory therapist

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

Respiratory Therapist Skills & Competencies

RTs must have certain skills and qualities to do their job effectively:

Interpersonal skills: Working one-on-one with sick patients and their worried families requires compassion and excellent interpersonal skills. Those skills also help facilitate the teamwork that is common between RTs and other healthcare workers.

Problem-solving skills: RTs must be able to recommend and administer the appropriate treatments based on evaluating patient symptoms.

Detail oriented: RTs must pay attention to the smallest of details to ensure patients are getting the correct treatments.

Patience: RTs may have to spend long periods of time working with a single patient.

Work setting

There are numerous institutes that recruit respiratory therapist. They can work in a number of work environments, from hospitals, to nursing care facilities, to private doctor offices, to out-patient care in the patient’s home. Respiratory therapists who work in doctor’s offices tend to work regular hours, but those recruited in hospitals or nursing care facilities may work during night or vacation hours. Respiratory therapists are generally employed in Intensive care units, emergency departments, Operating rooms, Neonatal nurseries and critical care teams in hospitals. Nursing homes, clinics and health care centres, pulmonary rehab centres, pulmonary function testing labs also offer openings for respiratory therapists.

The Duties Respiratory Therapists Perform

In addition to treatment, respiratory therapists are required to diagnose lung disease and breathing disorders, and then recommend the most appropriate treatment methods. As such, their work often includes examining patients, performing chest exams, and analyzing tissue specimens.

Along with having an extensive knowledge of the cardiopulmonary system, respiratory therapists must be experts in the machines and devices used to administer respiratory care treatments. This would involve managing patients on ventilators and artificial airway devices, and assessing the blood-oxygen level of patients.

Just a few of the responsibilities of respiratory therapists include:

· Managing life support mechanical ventilation systems

· Administering aerosol-based medications

· Monitoring equipment related to cardiopulmonary therapy

· Analyzing blood samples to determine levels of oxygen and other gases

· Managing artificial airways

· Assessing lung capacity to determine impairment

· Analyzing chest x-rays and sputum specimens

· Assessing vital signs

· Performing tests and studies related to the cardiopulmonary system (e.g., examinations, stress tests, etc.)

· Performing studies related to the cardiopulmonary system

· Conducting rehabilitation activities

· Counseling individuals in cardiopulmonary health (e.g., asthma education, smoking cessation, etc.)

· Consulting with physicians and members of the medical team to recommend a change in therapy

Respiratory therapy is always practiced under medical direction. As such, respiratory therapists are always part of a medical team. Their work includes participating in:

· The development and implementation of treatment plans and protocols

· Health promotion activities and programs

· Disease prevention

· Disease management

· Clinical decision-making

· Patient education

Their work involves critical thinking skills, assessment skills, and advanced knowledge in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, all of which enable them to develop and implement effective care, treatment, and disease management plans


Respiratory therapists typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Helping interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Helping interest which might fit with a career as a respiratory therapist, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Respiratory therapists should also possess the following specific qualities:

Compassion. Respiratory therapists should be able to provide emotional support to patients undergoing treatment and be sympathetic to their needs.

Detail oriented. Respiratory therapists must be detail oriented to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate treatments and medications in a timely manner. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Respiratory therapists interact with patients and often work as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.

Patience. Respiratory therapists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Problem-solving skills. Respiratory therapists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms, consult with other healthcare professionals, and recommend and administer the appropriate treatments.

Science and math skills. Respiratory therapists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate the right dose of a patient’s medicine.

Education Requirements to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Candidates who want to choose career as respiratory therapist must complete Bachelor’s degree programs in Respiratory Therapy and must gain experience in the field. Candidates who have passed 10+2 with Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics with a minimum of 60% marks can apply for bachelor’s degree course in respiratory therapy. Candidates can also complete postgraduate program in Respiratory Therapy to enhance their career. The minimum eligibility for M.Sc. Respiratory Therapy is B.Sc. in Respiratory Therapy degree with 50% marks.

Institutes that offer Postgraduate program in Respiratory Therapy for MBBS candidates is MediCiti Hospital, Hyderabad. Graduate students who have science background can also make career as a respiratory therapist by pursuing a diploma course in Respiratory therapy/ technology. There are several institutes in India offering 1-year diploma course, 2-year Postgraduate diploma and advanced Postgraduate diploma in Respiratory Therapy.

Respiratory therapy courses in India

· Advanced PG Diploma in Respiratory Therapy Technology

· B.Sc. Respiratory Therapy

· Diploma in Respiratory Therapy Technician Course

· Diploma in Respiratory Therapy Training

· Fellowship Program in Respiratory Therapy

· M.Sc. Respiratory Therapy

· P.G Diploma in Respiratory Therapy Technology

· Post Graduate Program in Respiratory Therapy

· Respiratory Therapist Training

Frequently asked questions

I'm considering respiratory therapy as a career choice, what are the job prospects like?

Being a respiratory therapist, you choose a field that you are going to work closely with critically ill patients , most of the time in your career you’d spent in ICU and Emergency room. The career is rewarding, it depends, I have seen most of the people are satisfied since they paid well at this time( because of high demand for the professional ).

job prospects are very good now especially in the Americas and Middle east. You can work as a respiratory therapist in ICU , ER and Home care to , People are working as a Researcher , Educators, lectures in the college.

What are the pros and cons of the respiratory therapist occupation?

The pros are:

· -considering the relatively short period of training, we make good money.

· You’re exposed to a wide variety of types of patients

· It can be a very exciting field

· It’s a fairly stable job

· Saving lives is an awesome feeling.

· The field is constantly changing, as new therapies and equipment are constantly coming on the market


· Can be a stressful job

· Sometimes disrespected by other members of the healthcare team (until they need your help in an emergency).

· Comparatively few career paths- outside of the traditional roles in hospitals, you can go into management, pulmonary function testing, pulmonary rehab, sub-acute, sleep lab, become an instructor, or become a product rep.

· Can be emotionally challenging, dealing with death, etc.

How much do respiratory therapist earn

The average salary for a Respiratory Therapist is ₹ 27,645 per month in India. Salary estimates are based on 8 salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed by Respiratory Therapist employees, users, and collected from past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

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