The goal of respiratory therapists is to cure or improve breathing disorders that people may be born with or develop later in life. For example, a patient with bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease would seek treatment from a respiratory therapist. In order to clear the breathing pathways of patients, respiratory therapists have the responsibility of administering aerosolized drugs, facilitating the use of oxygen delivery devices, performing endotracheal intubation suctioning, putting patients on and off life support, inserting the arterial lines, collecting and interpreting arterial blood samples, and more.
To become a respiratory therapist, you must devote at least two years to obtaining your associate degree. If after this time, you would like to advance your career, you might consider obtaining a bachelor's degree or master's degree in respiratory therapy. Whatever degree you pursue, however, it must come from a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. If you receive a degree that is not accredited by one of these two agencies, you may have a difficult time becoming certified or even getting a job. Before you can start work as a respiratory therapist in the United States, you must receive your Certified Respiratory Therapist credential.
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