Career Story: Respiratory Therapist And Healthcare Worker

Respiratory Therapist And Healthcare Worker

Job Title: Certified Respiratory Therapist

Type of Company: I am employed in a community hospital with an emergency department, an intensive care unit and a medical floor. There are also a mental health floor and a surgical day care.

Education: Certification, Respiratory Therapy, Newbury Junior College (Holliston, MA)

Previous Experience: I have worked in respiratory therapy for 25 years, beginning right out of college.

Job Tasks: I work twelve-hour shifts, almost always at night, and my duties consist of giving people who have lung diseases breathing treatments. I am also in on traumas where I might need to help in CPR. I am the "pulmonary" part of Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. I use a bag and mask to put air in people's lungs if they have stopped breathing. The doctor or paramedic will then place a tube in a patient's lungs while I hook them up to a ventilator -- provided their heart is pumping on its own at that point. I also perform an arterial blood gas screening to check how the lungs are working. The doctor can use the results of this blood test to determine the settings of the ventilator and whether those need to be changed. On other occasions, I am called on to place patients on another machine that assists regular breathing in people who have fluid in their lungs. This technique, known as "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure," is sometimes enough to forestall the need for intubation.

Another of my responsibilities is checking on patients who are on oxygen. I exchange their empty oxygen tanks for full ones. Over half of my patients are (or were) smokers and the older they get, the more frequently we see them. Many eventually die from smoking-related diseases.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is helping to get people well enough to go home. I like helping people.

The worst part is watching patients come in who've been in accidents, especially car accidents. I have never been comfortable with this part of my job. It's messy and very sad at times.

Job Tips:
1. Make sure that you have investigated all the medical jobs before you decide which career to pursue. I have enjoyed my job for quite a few years, but you can get burned out.

2. Compare your talents and aspirations with the various job descriptions offered in the medical fields. I chose Respiratory Therapy because I am myself an asthmatic and felt I could relate to others who were having difficulty breathing.

Additional Thoughts: In order to be in Respiratory Therapy, you should have a strong stomach, since part of the job is encouraging patients to cough and expectorate. If they are unable to do this, you may need to run a catheter up their nose and into their lungs so you can get at the sputum they failed to cough up. This requires a strong stomach. Ask yourself too if you are a people person, since you will need to work closely with other medical staff as well as patients and their families. It helps if you can relate to others in a positive way. There are many personalities to contend with in the medical field.

Popular Schools offering Respiratory Care Therapy Assisting Programs

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads
San Joaquin Valley College
Ontario, Temecula, Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

  • Programs: Degree - Respiratory Therapy
  • Degrees: Associate

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

  • Programs: Respiratory Therapy (AS)
  • Degrees: Associate
Brightwood College
San Diego

About Brightwood College

Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

  • Programs: Patient Care Technician
  • Degrees: Diploma
Platt College
Alhambra, Ontario

Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

  • Programs: Respiratory Therapy, Certified Nurse Assistant
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Associate, Certificate

Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017

  • Programs: Rehabilitation Sciences (Master of Science) - Online, Rehabilitation Sciences (Certificate) - Online
  • Degrees: Master, Certificate

Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.

  • Programs: Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program
  • Degrees: Certificate

Start your career with training from Blake Austin College - Beauty Academy.

  • Programs: Massage Therapy, Esthetician / Massage Therapy
  • Degrees: Certificate

Start your career with training from Alameda Beauty College.

  • Programs: Cosmetology
  • Degrees: Certificate
Argosy University
Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange, San Diego

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

  • Programs: Counseling Psychology (EdD), Counseling Psychology (MA)
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Master

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

  • Programs: Health Psychology - PhD of Psychology
  • Degrees: Doctorate
Matching School Ads

Additional Career Stories for Respiratory Therapists

The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.

All Types

You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Respiratory Therapists, including:

Back to Top
SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104