Respiratory care practitioners are medical specialists who help provide respiratory care by diagnosing problems and determining the appropriate path of treatment for a number of cardiopulmonary issues. The practitioners determine the goals of treatment, the type, implementation, and duration based on doctors' orders and expectations. Respiratory care practitioners are expected to inspect, clean, and test therapy equipment to keep it in safe working order. They also update patient charts as the physiological responses to therapy are observed, and they consult with physicians if any adverse reactions are noted. They set up and operate therapeutic devices following the parameters of treatment for the patient. In addition, they will assist in the transport of patients dependent on ventilator assistance and work as part of a cardiac arrest team to respond to trauma and cardiac arrest calls.
Respiratory care practitioners have good communication skills and are able to work well with other healthcare professionals. In order to hold this job position, one must be a registered respiratory therapist or be able to achieve registration within a short time after being hired. Other healthcare licenses that are required include holding a Basic Life Support Health Care Provider card from the American Heart Association and a license to practice within the state of employment. Respiratory care practitioners may work in a hospital or nursing home environment and, as with any job in the medical field, hours can be unpredictable subject to facility and individual patients' needs.
Respiratory Care Practitioner Tasks
- Maintain patient charts with therapy information.
- Inspect, clean, and test respiratory therapy equipment.
- Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy; vital signs, arterial blood gases and blood chemistry changes and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.
- Determine requirements for treatment; type, method and duration of therapy based on physicians' orders.
- Set up and operate mechanical and therapeutic devices following specified parameters of treatment.