Most people take breathing for granted. It is an involuntary reflex. But, for many Americans who suffer from breathing disorders, each and every breath is a major task.
Those include people with chronic lung problems, such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and many other breathing disorders. Respiratory therapists also come in contact daily with patients who have been involved in a traumatic accident, experienced a heart attack, or the birthing of premature infants and patients in a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
There are about 100,000 respiratory therapists in the United States. They work with patients of all ages and in many different healthcare settings.
Respiratory therapists are members of the healthcare team that provide respiratory care for a variety of patients with heart and lung disorders.
Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals where they perform procedures in intensive care, emergency room and neonatal nurseries.
They are a vital part of the hospital's lifesaving response team that handles many patient emergencies. An increasing number of respiratory therapists are now working in skilled nursing centers, physicians’ offices, home health agencies, specialty care hospitals and medical equipment supply companies.
The respiratory care program prepares students for the advanced level of practice to function as a licensed respiratory therapist.
As a member of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, respiratory therapists evaluate, treat and manage patients of all ages with respiratory illnesses and diseases.
Chuck Zuhars, RRT, MS Ed
St. Mary’s/Marshall University Cooperative School of Respiratory Care
St. Mary’s Center for Education
2900 1st Avenue
Huntington, WV 25702
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