What does an RT actually do?

When you wear scrubs, everyone who sees you immediately thinks healthcare.

Several times a day, I get puzzled looks when I tell strangers my specialty.


Then the inevitable discussion begins.

“Respiratory therapy?  Oh, like a physical therapist, right?”
NO. Not even close.
“Is that some sort of nurse? Like a nurse’s aide?”
NO, wrong again.
“I’ve never heard of that title, and my mom is the hospital right now.”                                                             
Yes, its a REAL profession, with a state license.
“The classes were probably super easy. Not like a med school.”
Seriously? I studied like a lunatic for years!
“Bet all you do is give inhalers and stuff for asthma.”
YES, we treat asthma. But there is a little bit more that we do.

Important fact:

Respiratory therapy is a team player that wears multiple hats.

Here are just as few of the teams on which we work.

Intubation in the operating room

We are on your emergency department team to resuscitate you after a car crash, and put you on a ventilator until you can safely breathe on your own again.

We are in the surgical ICU after your surgery to monitor and keep you breathing after your coronary bypass.

We  are on the ECMO team in critical care,  and run bypass machines during surgical  interventions

We are on the neonatal ICU care team to help your newborn baby live though the night.

We are on the trauma team with firefighter smoke inhalation, and we monitor the police officer with multiple gunshot wounds.

We are on the transport team that brings your grandma down to have a MRI after a fall in the nursing home.

We are on the flight team of helicopters and planes, and drive special ambulances to pick up emergency patients.

We assist with bronchoscopy procedures and draw blood gases from your arteries to find your infection and treat your metabolic acidosis.

Closeup of heart massage of victim of accident

We work in the sleep labs and pulmonary function testing labs, searching for the cause of your insomnia and sleep apnea.

We are the educators of respiratory home health, teaching family members about oxygen therapy and infection control.

We are the hands on the comfort care team that remove the breathing tube at end of life care, before a family member passes into the next life.

We are on the team that assists with organ transplantation from selfless donors, and help the care of the new recipients.

WE ALSO TREAT:  allergies, anaphylaxis, epiglottis, foreign body obstruction, atelectasis,  Cystic Fibrosis, Emphysema, Bronchitis, Pneumothorax, hydrathorax, congestive heart failure, empyema, pneumonia, dyspnea, orthopnea, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, meconium aspiration, premature babies with underdeveloped lungs, ALI, congenital heart defects, diaphragmatic hernia, crushed ribs, neuro-muscular diseases i.e ALS, MG, GB., decompression sickness, all varieties of lung carcinoma, sepsis complications, and a variety of cardiac conditions.

We are cardiopulmonary specialists.

And we would not trade our job for anything the world!