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What are the Different Duties of Respiratory Therapists?

K. Gierok
K. Gierok

A respiratory therapist primarily works with patients suffering from conditions targeting the respiratory system. While these individuals can work professionally with as little as two years of education, most jobs require at least a four year degree. Though a respiratory therapist has a number of duties, one of the most important includes patient diagnosis. Once a particular diagnosis is made, respiratory therapists can begin treating the patient. Often, treatment includes administration of oxygen or physiotherapy. In addition, respiratory therapists are often required to provide long term patient care, especially for those suffering from asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other similar conditions.

One of the most important duties of respiratory therapists is diagnosis. Until the respiratory therapist and the rest of the medical team understand exactly what is happening to a patient from a respiratory standpoint, proper treatment can be very difficult. Respiratory therapists conduct a number of tests on patients suffering from breathing difficulty, including those which determine the ability of the patient to breath unassisted, the typical flow of oxygen through the patients' body, and many more. These tests typically are done under the supervision of a physician. In addition, nurses, respiratory technicians, and other medical professionals may assist in the testing process.

The respiratory and abdominal organs.
The respiratory and abdominal organs.

Once a diagnosis has been made for a particular patient, treatment can begin. It is the job of the respiratory therapist to make sure that the correct type of treatment has been selected for a particular patient, and that treatment is being administered properly. Often, those suffering from pulmonary conditions require the use of oxygen masks in order to ensure their body gets the proper amount of oxygen. Other times, respiratory therapists may need to perform physiotherapy on a patient — a process that involves the breakup of phlegm in the lungs. When done properly, this procedure can greatly improve breathing and quality of life.

In some cases, respiratory therapists may be required to provide long-term care for patients. This is most often the case for those patients suffering from emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Often, these patients are encouraged to participate in a form of outpatient treatment known as respiratory therapy. Here, patients work on increasing lung capacity, learn techniques to improve breathing, and strengthen the cardiovascular system. Though the process may be slow, respiratory therapy has been found to be very advantageous for those suffering from chronic respiratory conditions.

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    • The respiratory and abdominal organs.
      By: adimas
      The respiratory and abdominal organs.