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About the Field of Respiratory Care

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What is a Respiratory Care Professional?

Respiratory Care is an Allied Health specialty focusing on cardiopulmonary life support. Respiratory Care is a health care service delivered by trained practitioners who, under physician supervision, actively participate in the care of patients.

Respiratory Care practitioners carry out physician orders using specialized equipment such as ventilators and pharmacological agents to help restore normal lung function. Respiratory Care practitioners treat patients requiring emergency attention (victims of heart failure, stroke, drowning, shock, and trauma) and those who suffer from chronic respiratory difficulties such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis.

The practice of Respiratory Care encompasses, but is not limited to patient assessment, treatment, management, and preventative care of patients with cardiopulmonary problems. Techniques of Respiratory Care are also utilized to help physicians analyze lung disorders through various types of testing procedures including blood sampling, breathing tests, and exercise testing.

Respiratory Care offers persons interested in caring for others the opportunity to serve as vital members of the health care team.

Mission Statement

The Respiratory Care Program provides a quality education at the registry level to prepare competent respiratory care practitioners to help meet manpower needs both locally and nationally.

Role of Respiratory Care Professionals

Respiratory Care is a growing allied health profession. Although the majority of practitioners work in hospitals in general staff positions, there are many areas for employment and specialization, including neonatology, pulmonary function testing, home care companies, extended care facilities, rehabilitation centers, business management, education, medical equipment suppliers, administration, hyperbaric medicine, extracorporeal circulation, emergency transport, and research.

Requirements for a Respiratory Therapy Career

People interested in a career in respiratory therapy should possess the following traits.

  • Scientific Thinking—strong aptitude for math and science 
  • Good Interpersonal Relationship Skills—ability to interact well with patients, physicians, and other health professionals
  • Dedication—strong commitment to the service of others
  • Manual Dexterity—mechanical aptitude, ability to work with your hands 
  • Accuracy—attention to detail, avoidance of mistakes
  • Ability to Work Under Pressure—cardiac arrest, critical care, patients on ventilators
  • Integrity—honesty, reliability, ethical
  • Willingness to Continue to Learn—must be interested in continually updating knowledge
  • Caring—ability to comfort those in need


Salaries vary considerably from one area of the United States to another. Beginning salaries may range from $50,000 to $65,000 for new graduates.

Learn more at Be an RT