Career Story: Respiratory Therapist At A Hospital

Respiratory Therapist At A Hospital

Job Title: Respiratory Therapist

Type of Company: Health care in Middlesex county

Education: BS, Health Care Administration, Charter Oak State College (New Britain, CT)

Previous Experience: I worked for twenty years in acute and subacute care at a Hartford, Connecticut hospital.

Job Tasks: I take care of patients who have breathing issues, from birth to the end of life. I help premature babies breath with a machine while their lungs continue to develop. A tiny tube is inserted from the mouth into the lungs and the air from the machine goes in and comes out. This is a bittersweet part of the job because sometimes the babies are too little or have other health problems and don't always do as well as we would want. But other babies do just fine, growing and healing and getting stronger. They go on to live normal lives.

I also take care of patients who are at the end of their lives, made too short by polluting their own lungs with smoke from cigarettes and drugs. I give them breathing medicines which help with the symptoms but can never cure their conditions. I clear their lungs of mucous and give them moments of calm. I help them with techniques and exercises to get them through their days a little better. We become quite familiar with each other, and I sometimes get to know them for years.

I work in many different places: the emergency rooms (sometimes working on life flights), the nursery, the OR, on patient floors, but most often in critical care areas. I am at every cardiac arrest, breathing for patients who cannot. I work collaboratively with the doctors and nurses as well as a pharmacist, physical therapist and CNA's.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is watching patients get better from their illnesses and return for a visit months later and seeing them as real people again. I enjoy the smile I see on a patient who can breath again because of my work. I enjoy figuring out why a device is not working properly and then fixing it. Another good part is teaching patients about their conditions so they understand why they must do the therapies prescribed.

The worst part is watching as death takes an innocent life, although you learn to accept death.

Job Tips: Education is your foundation in life. If you build a strong foundation you will always have a place to stand. If you use cheap materials, your foundation will crumble and you will need to start again. Learn as much as you can, not only in school but in life. Everyone has lessons to teach but not everyone gets paid to do it.

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