Health Care Providers
Respiratory therapists care for people of all ages with restricted breathing problems such as emphysema, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma. Respiratory therapists may work in hospitals, long term care facilities, physicians’ offices, and home health services. Respiratory therapists must have an associate’s degree, although most have a both an associates and bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. They are licensed in all states except Alaska (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012). Licensure requires passing a state certification or professional examination. Respiratory therapists teach patients how to use inhalers and aerosol machines. They provide counseling on smoking cessation. Also set-up, connects, and monitors ventilators for patients that cannot breathe on their own. Respiratory therapists also perform chest physiotherapy on cystic fibrosis patients to remove mucus from their lungs to make it easier for them to breathe. They also perform diagnostic testing such as Pulmonary Function Testing and Methocholine Challenge Testing. The Pulmonary Function Tests provides physicians information on the patient’s lung capacity and breathing ability to assist them in prescribing the appropriate medication. The Methocholine Challenge Test determines if the patient has reversible asthma disease. The Respiratory therapist also performs a test called polysomnogram, a test to determine if a person has sleep apnea (breathing pauses during sleep). The annual median pay for Respiratory therapists as of May 2010 is $54, 280 (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012). Employment of Respiratory therapists is expected to grow 28% from 2010 to 20120 (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012) because of the rise in the in the number of elderly with increased incident of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases that restrict lung function or cause permanent damage. Also affecting the increase in the need for respiratory...
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