Respiratory Therapists Enter the Spotlight During National Respiratory Care Week
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October 12, 2012
National Respiratory Care Week, an annual event that recognizes the work of respiratory therapists (RTs) and the importance of lung health, is set for October 21-27, 2012 and is sponsored by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).
People who are lucky enough to take breathing for granted may have never even heard of a “respiratory therapist.” But for those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, and other conditions, “RTs,” as they are known for short, are key to breathing easier. National Respiratory Care Week is a great time for everyone to learn more about these vital health care professionals.
“Respiratory therapists work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, home care settings, and doctor’s offices to assist physicians in caring for their patients with pulmonary problems,” says Susan Wynn, RRT, Director of Respiratory and Sleep Services at Schneck Medical Center. “You’ll find us managing ventilators in the ICU, performing pulmonary function tests that are used to diagnose lung disease, administering sleep studies for obstructive sleep apnea, facilitating smoking cessation efforts, and delivering respiratory care throughout the hospital including the neonatal nursery and in the emergency department.”
RTs also spend time educating chronic lung disease patients about their conditions and the medications used to treat them so they will be better able to stay at home and out of the hospital. RTs also work in pulmonary rehabilitation programs to help people regain some of their lost functioning.
The field is full of great job opportunities as well. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment of RTs is expected to grow at a much faster pace than the average for all occupations, increasing by 21% between 2008 and 2018,” stated Tammy Dye, Vice President of Clinical Services at Schneck.
Entry into the profession requires a degree from a two year college program, although many RTs also hold bachelor’s degrees or above. To learn more about careers in respiratory care, visit the AARC’s website at http://www.aarc.org/career.
For more information on lung disease, see the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institutes website at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/copd/.