Careers in health care require a lot of hard work, but they are rewarding and provide job security. Health is a precious luxury that everyone wants to protect, so there is always a demand for knowledgeable health care professionals. Plus, you learn a lot about your own personal health and how to take proper care of your body.
If you’re not sure which area of health care to enter, you might want to consider respiratory therapy. This specific form of therapy is in high demand due to the abundance of patients who need individualized care. Here’s an overview of the field and what it takes to get your foot in the door as a professional respiratory therapist.
What Is Respiratory Therapy?
Respiratory therapy is administered to patients who suffer from both chronic and acute diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and cancer. Pulmonary physicians diagnose the patients then prescribe a therapy plan. Therapy methods vary based on the patients’ specific needs and can include the use of artificial airways, ventilators, and inhalant medications. Therapy programs can also involve disease management and healthy lifestyle guidance.
Professionals who administer respiratory therapy are responsible for monitoring symptoms, performing diagnostic tests, collaborating with physicians, administering treatment, and teaching patients how to use respiratory devices. Therapists typically work in hospitals or assisted living residences. They can also provide home services for patients with limited mobility or transportation and to help patients develop daily routines to support and mitigate chronic illnesses.
Are There Enough Jobs for Therapists?
The need for respiratory therapists is on the rise as the population of elderly individuals continuously increases. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to respiratory disease, which is one of the major causes of death in the U.S. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 8.7 million adults were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis and about 3.4 million adults were diagnosed with emphysema in 2014. There were also 147,101 deaths due to chronic lower respiratory disease in the same year.
As far as employment goes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 120,700 employed respiratory therapists in 2014 and expects that number to increase by 12 percent through 2024. Health care facilities are in continuous need of respiratory professionals who can administer therapy for a variety pulmonary conditions.
Do Therapists Need a College Degree?
Though some health care facilities accept an associate’s degree, it is wise for an aspiring professional to earn a Bachelor of Science in respiratory therapy. A bachelor’s degree provides a well-rounded learning experience and addresses all the challenges facing graduates of a respiratory therapist school. Students also receive in-depth training on electronic records systems and study the importance of technology in the public health sector. In fact, the field of health information technology is a crucial component of individualized care and global public health, as summarized in this infographic about health IT.
Need More Information?
Check out the prerequisites for entering a program and evaluate whether it makes sense to go full or part time. If you have questions, call the admissions department about tuition, registration dates, and how to apply.