How to Get a Job as a Respiratory Therapist
Practice your people skills and problem-solving abilities so that you can better relate to and examine patients, plus consult with doctors and other healthcare personnel on appropriate treatment. Being adept with machinery is also an asset, given that medical equipment and records are increasingly digitized.
Having a head for evidence-based medicine will also help you go far. "Evidence-based medicine is about taking the science out of research and continuous quality improvement initiatives, and then transferring it into best clinical practice," Myers says. "There's a big focus in the U.S. on quality and safety, and preventing infections that are hospital-acquired. We're looking for people to take best practice and take science and convert that into best-practice standards."
What is the Job Like?
"There's so much diversity in the profession," Myers says. "It all depends on the setting you're in. You could work in home care or in diagnostics, for example. We have educators, we have therapists in ambulatory settings, in sub-acute care, in long acute care, in neonatal. And obviously hospitals as an entity are our biggest employers."
The work can be stressful. RTs are regular fixtures in emergency rooms, treating patients who come in experiencing serious trauma and suffering from an infectious disease. Even if they're working floors above in other parts of the hospital, RTs are still interacting with people struggling to breathe. And the need for quality healthcare isn't limited to Monday through Friday during business hours. A therapist could work eight to 12 hours at any time of day or night, including weekends and holidays. According to Myers, the stress level could shift depending on the time of year. "You go from respiratory viral season into asthma season. In the summer, you don't see some of those respiratory diseases, but you do see trauma, injuries, and lot of surgeries, since that's when school kids are on break. In the fall you back into asthma season again," he says.