About the Profession

Respiratory Therapist

Click on the above picture to learn more about being a Respiratory Therapist.

Respiratory therapists, also known as respiratory care practitioners (RCPs) are the health care professionals specially trained for the treatment, management, care and education of patients with heart and lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis or sleep apnea.  Respiratory Care Practitioners are trained in the diagnostic evaluation of lung function and therapeutic procedures that help maintain good lung health.  They also have the skills to effectively manage life support systems and respond to medical emergencies such as trauma, heart attack, and stroke.

Respiratory therapists often “blend in” to the healthcare team, sometimes mistaken for a physician or a nurse because of the complexity of care they deliver and the autonomy they have in their work.  However, respiratory therapists “stand out” at the bedside by delivering high quality, life-saving patient care that makes an immediate difference for patients who need immediate assistance.    Respiratory therapists are known for being “high tech” and “high touch”, since they incorporate the latest technology to deliver compassionate patient care.

There are more than 130,000 respiratory care practitioners in the United States working in hospitals, transitional care facilities, nursing homes, home health agencies, specialized care hospitals and physician’s offices.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 19% growth in employment by 2029, compared to an average of 7% for all other fields, which means more opportunities and job security.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the value and need for registered respiratory therapists to a level where the growth projections may be significantly higher than expected.