For most people, breathing is as easy and natural as blinking. But for thousands of Canadians, breathing is a struggle. They might be accident victims, premature babies with immature lungs, heart attack and stroke patients, or people who live with asthma and emphysema. Respiratory Therapists play a vital role on the healthcare team.
Respiratory Therapists are highly skilled healthcare professionals who care for patients by evaluating and treating cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) disorders. Respiratory Therapists have specialized medical expertise and use advanced medical technology. They provide advanced life support for extremely ill patients as well as evaluating and providing treatment, education and support to those living with chronic illness. Their role on the healthcare team is to:
- Treat patients that have experienced trauma or are in surgery or intensive care
- Help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Stabilize high-risk patients being moved by air or ground ambulance
- Provide support at high-risk deliveries for babies who have trouble breathing
- Help deliver anesthesia in the operating room
- Administer inhaled drugs and medical gases such as asthma medication and oxygen
- Do tests to measure lung function
- Provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Provide respiratory care to adults and children in their homes
- Provide healthcare in various clinics related to breathing such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis clinics
- Administer and provide care in cardiac diagnostic clinics, pulmonary function clinics, and sleep disorder labs
- Provide education to patients, members of other healthcare professions, and the public on topics such as smoking cessation
Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, clinics, labs and also in the community. You'll find them applying their expertise in neonatal nurseries, operating rooms, intensive care units, general wards, and emergency departments, various healthcare clinics, rehabilitation facilities and in patients homes. They need good judgment, excellent interpersonal skills, and the ability to maintain composure in critical medical situations.