How to Be Clinical Respiratory Therapist - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

Clinical Respiratory Therapists are medical professionals who provide care to patients with breathing difficulties, such as asthma, COPD, and other respiratory ailments. Their role is critical in helping those individuals manage their symptoms, improve their health, and ultimately, their quality of life. Their tasks include assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients through the use of therapies and procedures such as pulmonary function testing, oxygen therapy, inhalation treatments, and mechanical ventilation.

To ensure successful interventions, Clinical Respiratory Therapists must have a high degree of knowledge in physiology, pharmacology, and medicine. Through their skills and expertise, they can help reduce hospitalization rates, reduce healthcare costs, and improve patient outcomes.

Steps How to Become

  1. Earn a Degree. To become a clinical respiratory therapist, you must earn an associate's degree in respiratory therapy from an accredited college or university. This program consists of courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology, as well as practical instruction in the use of ventilators and other respiratory equipment.
  2. Obtain Licensure. All states require clinical respiratory therapists to be licensed. To obtain licensure, you must pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) examination. To be eligible to take the exam, you must have completed an accredited program and have at least one year of clinical experience.
  3. Gain Clinical Experience. In addition to obtaining an associate's degree, you must also gain clinical experience to become a clinical respiratory therapist. You can do this by completing an internship or externship in a hospital or other healthcare setting. This will give you the opportunity to observe and work with experienced respiratory therapists, as well as to gain hands-on experience with the equipment used in the field.
  4. Get Certified. Once you have obtained your degree and gained clinical experience, you should consider getting certified. The NBRC offers two levels of certification: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Both certifications require passing the NBRC exam and may also require additional coursework and/or clinical experience.
  5. Join a Professional Organization. Becoming a member of a professional organization such as the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) or the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) can help you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field, as well as provide access to continuing education opportunities. In addition, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have professional credentials or memberships.

Being a reliable and capable Clinical Respiratory Therapist requires a great deal of specialized knowledge and skill. To start, they must have a strong understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology of the respiratory system. They also need to be able to accurately assess a patient’s respiratory status, diagnose any underlying conditions, and formulate an appropriate and individualized treatment plan for each patient.

they must be knowledgeable and experienced in multiple modalities of respiratory therapy, such as oxygen delivery, airway clearance techniques, and mechanical ventilation, as well as various non-invasive and invasive diagnostic tests. Finally, Clinical Respiratory Therapists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to effectively collaborate with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in providing quality care to their patients. All these attributes, combined with a genuine passion for the field, are what make a reliable and capable Clinical Respiratory Therapist.

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Job Description

  1. Perform patient assessments to evaluate respiratory health and diagnose respiratory disorders.
  2. Administer treatments including aerosol therapy, breathing exercises, and pulmonary rehabilitation.
  3. Monitor and adjust mechanical ventilators and other life support systems.
  4. Evaluate patient responses to treatments and modify treatment plans as needed.
  5. Educate patients on self-care techniques and preventive measures.
  6. Develop care plans to ensure optimal patient outcomes.
  7. Perform diagnostic tests and interpret test results.
  8. Keep detailed records of all treatments, patient responses, and other relevant data.
  9. Provide emergency care to patients as needed.
  10. Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of anatomy and physiology related to the respiratory system
  2. Knowledge of lung diseases, treatments and pharmacology
  3. Ability to perform pulmonary function tests
  4. Proficient in intubation and mechanical ventilation
  5. Familiarity with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) protocols
  6. Competency in airway management and oxygen therapy
  7. Understanding of cardiopulmonary laboratory techniques
  8. Proficiency in aerosol therapy and nebulizer treatments
  9. Ability to perform chest physiotherapy techniques
  10. Knowledge of infection control principles
  11. Ability to read and interpret medical records and diagnostic imaging
  12. Ability to collaborate with other healthcare professionals
  13. Excellent communication skills
  14. Ability to educate patients and families on medical conditions and treatments

Clinical Respiratory Therapists are critical healthcare professionals that provide essential treatment and care to patients suffering from various cardiopulmonary ailments. One of the most important skills for a Clinical Respiratory Therapist is the ability to assess and accurately interpret data to diagnose an illness or injury. They must be able to recognize signs and symptoms of respiratory issues and be able to differentiate between normal and abnormal respiratory function.

they must have knowledge of the various diagnostic tests available and be able to effectively utilize them to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition. Clinical Respiratory Therapists must also have strong interpersonal skills in order to effectively provide education and support to patients and their families. It is also important for Clinical Respiratory Therapists to be organized and efficient in order to accurately document patient information and maintain patient records.

the combination of knowledge, accuracy, communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills are essential for Clinical Respiratory Therapists in order to provide quality care to patients.

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Frequent Interview Questions

  • What experience do you have working with critically ill patients?
  • How would you respond to a difficult situation where family members are in disagreement about the best course of treatment for a patient?
  • What methods do you use to ensure the accuracy and safety of respiratory treatments?
  • Describe a time when you had to find a creative solution to a difficult problem in your work?
  • How do you stay up to date with the latest advances in respiratory therapy?
  • What methods do you use to build relationships with patients and their families?
  • What do you consider to be the most important qualities of a successful respiratory therapist?
  • How would you approach teaching a new procedure to a colleague or subordinate?
  • Describe a time when you had to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines.
  • How do you handle stress and remain organized while managing complex patient care responsibilities?

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Ventilators. Devices that help to regulate breathing, as well as increase or decrease ventilation (e. g. IntelliVent).
  2. Oxygen Delivery Systems. Devices that deliver oxygen to a patient (e. g. Boussignac CPAP System).
  3. Respiratory Monitors. Equipment used to monitor a patient’s breathing rate and oxygen saturation (e. g. Masimo Pulse Oximeter).
  4. Respiratory Therapy Software. Computer programs used in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory disorders (e. g. RespiTrack).
  5. Nebulizers. Devices that convert liquid medication into an aerosol form for inhalation (e. g. Omron NE-C30 Compressor Nebulizer).
  6. Peak Flow Meters. Devices used to measure the peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) of a patient (e. g. Microlife Peak Flow Meter).
  7. Incentive Spirometers. Equipment used to measure the amount of air a patient can inhale and exhale (e. g. Acapella Incentive Spirometer).

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)
  2. Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT)
  3. Australian and New Zealand Society of Respiratory Science (ANZSRS)
  4. European Society of Respiratory Care (ESRC)
  5. International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP)
  6. American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP)
  7. American Thoracic Society (ATS)
  8. National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC)
  9. American Lung Association (ALA)
  10. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

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Common Important Terms

  1. Ventilation. The process of providing oxygen to and removing carbon dioxide from the lungs.
  2. Oxygen Therapy. The delivery of supplemental oxygen to a patient to increase the amount of oxygen in their blood.
  3. Respiratory Therapy. The treatment and management of respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, using therapeutic techniques and medications.
  4. Pulmonary Function Testing. A test that measures lung capacity, air flow and gas exchange.
  5. Mechanical Ventilation. The use of a machine to assist with breathing by providing a flow of air into the lungs.
  6. Bronchoscopy. A procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera attached to it to examine the airways and diagnose respiratory problems.
  7. Pulmonary Rehabilitation. A program designed to help patients with chronic lung problems improve their quality of life.
  8. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). An emergency procedure used to restart a person's heart and breathing in the event of cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
  9. Respiratory Support. The use of mechanical ventilators, oxygen therapy, and other treatments to support breathing.
  10. Aerosol Therapy. The administration of medication in the form of an aerosol mist, which is inhaled into the lungs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Clinical Respiratory Therapist?

A Clinical Respiratory Therapist is a health care professional who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of respiratory disorders. They provide care to patients with conditions such as asthma, COPD, and sleep apnea.

What qualifications are required to become a Clinical Respiratory Therapist?

To become a Clinical Respiratory Therapist, you must have an Associate's Degree in Respiratory Therapy or a Bachelor's Degree in Cardiopulmonary Science. You must also be certified by the National Board for Respiratory Care.

What duties does a Clinical Respiratory Therapist perform?

Clinical Respiratory Therapists are responsible for evaluating and treating patients with respiratory illnesses, performing diagnostic tests and pulmonary function tests, monitoring patients' progress, and providing patient education on proper breathing techniques and use of respiratory equipment.

What is the average salary for a Clinical Respiratory Therapist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Clinical Respiratory Therapists in May 2019 was $59,820.

What is the job outlook for Clinical Respiratory Therapists?

The job outlook for Clinical Respiratory Therapists is positive and is expected to grow 21 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

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