Respiratory therapy technicians are also called respiratory therapy assistants, respiratory care assistants or respiratory therapist assistants. They assist respiratory therapists (RT) and doctors to provide medical treatment to people that have breathing and cardiopulmonary problems such as asthma or emphysema. They can also provide medical aid under the direction of RT’s to people suffering from shock, heart attack and drowning as well as adults that have lungs problems or babies with undeveloped lungs.

The on-the-job training includes taking part in examinations, administering treatments and therapy, and providing nursing care for patients suffering from breathing and cardiopulmonary difficulties.

Respiratory therapy technicians are employed by hospitals and nursing homes, and at respiratory therapy offices and clinics. Most of the positions are part time, to accommodate students’ class schedules, though some full-time positions are available.

Respiratory Therapy Technician Job Description

Respiratory therapy technicians serve people who have trouble breathing, and those with asthma, emphysema, and other cardiopulmonary ailments. Patients also include heart attack and stroke victims, those with lung problems, and people who have nearly drowned.

Technicians may be called upon to help with most of the duties of a respiratory therapist. These tasks include conducting pulmonary function tests, and providing oxygen therapy with an ultrasonic nebulizer. Other procedures are intermittent positive-pressure breathing therapy and spirometer treatments. The results of examinations and tests need to be analyzed to determine diagnoses and treatments.

Technicians provide bronchopulmonary drainage treatments, teach patients how to do breathing exercises, and monitor vital signs during therapy sessions. They get medical equipment ready, and test it, for use in examinations and diagnostic procedures. Among the devices are mechanical ventilators, electrocardiograms, aerosol generators, and machines that administer gas therapy.

The responsibilities of a respiratory therapy technician include:
  • Under the direction of a licensed respiratory therapist or doctor, conduct examinations and tests on patients
  • Help provide breathing and oxygen therapy
  • Administer medication
  • Collect blood samples from patients for laboratory testing
  • Monitor patients’ vital signs and responses to treatment
  • Provide education regarding treatments and breathing exercises
  • Show patients how to use breathing-assistance devices at home
  • Help patients fill out forms
  • Maintain medical records
  • Ensure that equipment is sterile and organized
  • Prepare and test devices needed for treatments and testing

 Respiratory Therapy Technician Prerequisites

Strong communication and people skills are needed to work with patients and medical staff. Respiratory therapy technicians must be able to follow spoken and written instructions.

They have to be meticulous in monitoring patients and recording data. Analytical abilities, as well as critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, are also necessary.

Respiratory Therapy Technician Education

In high school, students considering medical careers should take classes in sciences like anatomy, biology, and chemistry. English courses are also helpful.

Hospitals and clinics frequently hire respiratory therapy technicians who are enrolled in degree programs in the field. It is possible to get a job as early as the freshman year, though employers tend to prefer seniors.

Technical schools, community colleges, and hospitals offer a 1 to 2 year training program in respiratory therapy. They feature courses in pulmonary rehabilitation, pulmonary function testing, respiratory care, airway management, anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. In addition to classes, students take part in clinical practicums.

Most employers require one to possess at least an associate’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs, involving four years of study, also are available. They provide more clinical training and classes in health sciences. A bachelor’s degree may help graduates get higher-paying jobs as technicians, or qualify for respiratory therapist positions.

Respiratory Therapy Technician Schools

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Respiratory Therapy Technician Certification

In some states, respiratory therapy technicians must be registered. Websites maintained by state medical-licensing boards and departments of health have information about how to register.

Most hospitals and other employers, and some states, mandate that technicians be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, basic life support, and basic cardiac life support. Colleges, hospitals, and other institutions offer the classes required to earn the certificates.

Another certification program, administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care, is an opportunity to become more qualified for employment. Applicants must present their educational credentials and pass an exam.

Respiratory Therapy Technician Salary

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Respiratory Therapy Technician Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the respiratory therapy technician job description:
  • Provide care to patients with breathing problems
  • Work with respiratory therapists
  • 1 to 2 year RT technician training
  • Licensure not required in all states