How to become a respiratory therapist

  • To become a respiratory therapist, one should complete an entry level education (high school diploma or general equivalency diploma or GED degree) before enrolling in an accredited associate’s degree in respiratory therapy. One should select a respiratory therapy program based on the state’s licensing department. In general, respiratory therapy programs are offered at universities, vocational schools, post-secondary colleges, medical schools, including community colleges. Some candidates usually earn bachelor’s degrees to promote their careers as advanced respiratory therapists. Alternately, one can improve employment opportunities by pursuing master’s degrees as well. In fact, to become a Certified or Registered Respiratory Therapist, one should ensure that the graduation program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program. Keep reading for more information about how to become a respiratory therapist.

  • It has been reported by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the graduates of associate’s degree respiratory therapy programs should complete a clinical practicum, or internship. Moreover, the candidates pursuing a respiratory therapy degree program take courses in various health fields such as microbiology, anatomy, mathematics, pharmacology, and physiology. In addition, the graduates of respiratory therapy programs should be well trained to evaluate the patient condition and perform diagnostic procedures. They should guide the patients about respiratory health and disease prevention.

    Moreover, one should complete a specific coursework in respiratory therapy program by learning various types of subjects in order to gain work experience in a clinical setting. Various schools offer different respiratory therapy courses; while some offer diploma programs that include only general respiratory therapy. One should study basic subjects like microbiology, human anatomy, pharmacology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. The coursework also includes general health care topics such as medical record keeping and reimbursement. One can prefer taking up courses in a specific field of respiratory therapy, such as cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, patient assessment, therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, and respiratory health promotion.

    One should obtain a license on passing an examination officially conducted by the state except in Hawaii and Alaska, where certification is not required to practice. Sometimes, one may require tests with national recognition like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. These include the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) standard for licensure. One should complete an exam conducted by a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or the CAAHEP.

    Why to become respiratory therapist ?

    There has been a sudden hike in demand for the respiratory therapists as the number of people with respiratory diseases has currently increased and thousands of therapists are employed immediately on completion of their accredited respiratory therapy programs. This is also due to increasing number of respiratory therapy clinics that offer affordable respiratory therapy services to large number of patients. Moreover, one can have a lucrative and respected career by treating various respiratory disorders and by improving an overall state of wellness in patients. In addition, one can start earning soon after completing just 2 years of hands on respiratory therapy training program.

    Currently, the respiratory therapists are at a higher demand than before and according to the BLS, the employment for them is more likely to increase by up to 28 percent by the year 2010 to 2020. Respiratory therapists tend to get new job openings due faster than the average growth of respiratory therapy services in future. Apart from receiving competitive salary, one can gain more salary benefits by becoming a certified respiratory therapist.

    Moreover, the middle-aged and elderly population in future is more prone to develop serious respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and various other respiratory disorders that can restrict lung function or irreversibly damage the lungs. The high incidence factor of respiratory diseases has currently led to an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments thus, increasing the job opportunities at mostly hospitals and nursing homes. In addition, the demand for respiratory therapists is currently increasing due to the advances in diagnosing and preventing disease, invention of effective medications, and by the reinforcement of sophisticated treatments. Moreover, various other factors of the general population, such as air pollution, smoking, and respiratory emergencies, will ensure a continuous demand for respiratory therapists.

    Respiratory therapist requirements

    Respiratory therapists should first complete an entry level education (school or GED equivalent degree) before enrolling in a respiratory therapy program. One should at least complete an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy offered at an accredited university, college, medical schools and vocational schools for respiratory therapists. Those aspiring to advance their careers as advanced respiratory therapists pursue bachelor’s degrees. One can also pursue master’s degrees as well if planning to improve job opportunity.

    In general, one should select a respiratory therapy program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in order to become a Certified or Registered Respiratory Therapist following graduation. The candidate becomes eligible to take the National Board of Respiratory Care Exam (NBRC) for respiratory therapists on successful completion of 2 year respiratory therapy program. Several certifications in respiratory therapy have been offered by the NBRC.

    The respiratory therapist should possess a minimum entry-level credential of either an associate’s degree or 2 years of hands-on respiratory care training experience and pass a certification exam to become a Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT). Moreover, one can become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) by the completion of an associate’s degree program in respiratory therapy from an accredited school and by passing the NBRC exam. In fact, the NBRC is also in charge of awarding various advanced level credentials such as the the Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT), Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) and both on successful completion of advanced education, exams and training experience.

    One should understand that every state requirement for becoming a certified respiratory therapist will be different. The number of hours of respiratory therapy training varies for different states. All the states except Alaska and Hawaii require certification in respiratory therapy.  Many schools offer respiratory therapy programs that usually last for 2 years, while others may offer respiratory therapy courses that may require more than 2 years of respiratory therapy education and training.

    Respiratory therapist training

    The training program for a respiratory therapist includes the following course subjects: one should complete a typical educational coursework that includes medical subjects like human anatomy and physiology. Moreover, one should learn the subjects like pathophysiology, physics, microbiology, chemistry, pharmacology, and mathematics. One requires an in depth knowledge of various respiratory or lung conditions. For this reason, one should learn various anatomy and physiological mechanism of the respiratory system of the body. The education and training for a certified respiratory therapist initially focuses on respiratory system, procedures involving respiratory tract, patient care, diagnostic tests, and applying clinical practice through hands on experience. In fact, one should complete a respiratory therapy program from a school or university accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

    Respiratory therapist certification

    On completion of program, one should learn whether the state (except Alaska and Hawaii) requires certification. One should apply to the exams, the National Board of Respiratory Care Exam and become a certified respiratory therapist (CRT) after obtaining a license to practice. To become a certified respiratory therapist, one should obtain license to practice. According to the BLS, one should obtain the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. In fact, one should fulfill the standard requirement for licensure as set by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). It can be obtained through the CRT credential after graduating from an entry-level or advanced program accredited by the the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or the CAAHEP, followed by the successful completion of examination.

    Respiratory therapist degree and education

    To become a respiratory therapist, one should complete an entry-level education (high school diploma or GED or its equivalent) before enrolling in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy. One should graduate either from a four-year bachelor’s degree or a two-year associate’s degree in a program accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).The program curriculum can include both theory classes and clinical procedures. The state certification can be obtained by passing a state exam officially conducted by the National Board for Respiratory Care. The candidate can then obtain the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) designation after graduating from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

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