Do you know anyone who has asthma? Or maybe you have an older relative with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Then you may have an idea of how horrible it is not to be able to breathe well. That’s why people with cardio-pulmonary conditions rely on Respiratory Therapists (RT). RTs are the trained healthcare professionals who help patients with chronic and acute issues affecting their lungs and heart. They work with everyone who needs their assistance from newborn babies to the elderly and lots of people in between.
What Do Respiratory Therapists Do?
If you were a Respiratory Therapist, the most important part of your job would be to help cardio-pulmonary patients understand and live with their condition. You would teach them how to adjust their lifestyles and follow proper regiments for better health—what they should and shouldn’t do. You’d also show them how to take their medications properly and set up and use their equipment properly. And you’d make certain that they know what they might need to do in an emergency when you’re not around. Mostly, you would help your patients have the best quality of life possible.
But before all that therapy starts, you’ll help the doctor assess what’s going on. If the patient is in immediate distress, that’s priority number one. You might need to get your patient on oxygen right away and get them in to see the doctor. But you’ll also take their vital signs and their medical history and keep accurate records of both. You might draw blood to test the oxygen levels. And you’ll listen to their heart and lungs and report to the physician what you hear.
Respiratory Therapists and the Therapy Plan
Once your patient has been seen and diagnosed by a physician, you’ll help administer the respiratory care plan. The patient is usually given treatment that includes medicine and therapies that will help improve their breathing. For example, one of the most distressing conditions of cardiopulmonary issues is something called dyspnea. Also known as breathlessness, it causes significant discomfort to the patient. But you can help alleviate some of the physical and mental stress of dyspnea using three methods:
- Respiratory: Teach your patient to use their muscles to breathe more efficiently.
- Cognitive: Teach your patient to use relaxation technique to lessen distress, anxiety, and panic.
- Physical: Help your patient maintain physical activity so their condition doesn’t worsen.
The Soft Skills of Respiratory Therapists
If you go into a medical career, it’s probably because you have a real desire to help others. That’s great. And it’s probably also why some of the best things Respiratory Therapists do to help their patients are less easy to measure. Warmth, compassion, and patience go a long way to making your patients feel like they matter; that they’re much more than just the disease they have.
Do you have right traits for the career of a Respiratory Therapist? At YTI Career Institute in Altoona, you could attain your Associate in Specialized Technology degree is as little as 21 months with our respiratory program. We combine classroom lessons with hands-on training. Want to learn more? Schedule a campus visit today!