How to Be Respiratory Therapy Technician - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

The Respiratory Therapy Technician plays an important role in the respiratory therapy process. As a technician, their primary responsibility is to assist the respiratory therapist in providing patient care. This includes activities such as setting up and operating equipment, measuring lung capacity and administering treatments such as aerosolized medications and oxygen therapy.

These activities are important for helping patients with chronic breathing problems, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), maintain their respiratory health. A lack of proper treatment can cause the condition to worsen, leading to more serious health complications and even death. As such, having a skilled respiratory therapy technician on staff is essential for providing quality care to patients with respiratory issues.

Steps How to Become

  1. Obtain a High School Diploma or GED. To become a respiratory therapy technician, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  2. Complete a Respiratory Therapy Technician Program. You must complete an accredited respiratory therapy technician program to become certified. This typically includes courses in anatomy, physiology, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, medical terminology, and pharmacology.
  3. Pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) Exams. After completing your program, you must pass the NBRC exams to become certified. The NBRC offers both a basic credentialing exam and an advanced credentialing exam.
  4. Obtain a State License. Depending on your state, you may need to obtain a license to practice as a respiratory therapy technician. Contact your state's respiratory care board for more information on licensing requirements.
  5. Obtain Clinical Experience. Most employers will require that you have some clinical experience before being hired as a respiratory therapy technician. You can gain this experience by completing an internship or volunteer work in a hospital or other health care facility.
  6. Get Certified. You may also choose to become certified by the NBRC as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). This certification is voluntary but can help you stand out when applying for jobs.

Respiratory Therapy Technicians must remain up to date and capable in order to provide the best care possible for their patients. To do this, it is essential that they stay informed on the latest developments in respiratory therapy techniques and technology. they should attend workshops and seminars on the latest treatments, equipment, and techniques.

Furthermore, they should become certified in their specialty areas and maintain their certifications through continuing education courses. By staying informed and keeping up to date with the latest information and advancements, Respiratory Therapy Technicians can remain knowledgeable and capable of providing the best care for their patients.

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Job Description

  1. Assist respiratory therapists in providing respiratory care treatments to patients.
  2. Prepare equipment for respiratory treatments such as bronchial hygiene therapy, aerosol therapy, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary function tests.
  3. Monitor vital signs and patient response to treatments.
  4. Collect and analyze data for patient evaluations.
  5. Educate patients and families on the use of respiratory equipment and techniques.
  6. Administer medications and treatments as directed by a respiratory therapist.
  7. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other emergency medical procedures.
  8. Ensure all equipment is clean, in good working order and that supplies are maintained.
  9. Maintain records of patient care, condition, treatments, and progress.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of medical terminology and respiratory therapy procedures and techniques.
  2. Ability to monitor and evaluate patient progress and make necessary adjustments to treatment plans.
  3. Ability to assemble, operate, disassemble and troubleshoot medical equipment related to respiratory care.
  4. Ability to accurately document patient information and assessment data.
  5. Ability to accurately measure and record vital signs.
  6. Skill in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  7. Knowledge of infection control policies and procedures.
  8. Ability to communicate effectively with patients and other healthcare providers.
  9. Ability to adhere to safety protocols when administering medications, treatments and therapies.
  10. Knowledge of regulatory statutes, standards and guidelines applicable to respiratory care.

Having strong communication skills is an essential skill for any Respiratory Therapy Technician. Good communication allows for the therapy technician to effectively interact with patients, doctors, and other medical staff. Proper communication also allows for the technician to accurately explain the procedures and treatments to the patient, as well as take accurate notes regarding the patient’s condition.

Furthermore, this skill is imperative in order to properly diagnose and treat respiratory issues in a timely manner. Without effective communication, the technician may be unable to get all of the necessary information, which could lead to incorrect diagnoses and treatments. Thus, having strong communication skills is an invaluable asset that can help ensure the best possible outcomes for the patient.

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Frequent Interview Questions

  • What experience do you have in the field of Respiratory Therapy?
  • How would you handle a difficult patient with complex respiratory needs?
  • What do you consider to be the most important qualities of a successful Respiratory Therapy Technician?
  • Describe a time when you had to take initiative to complete a task in a timely manner.
  • How do you stay current on the latest technology, treatments, and procedures in the field of Respiratory Therapy?
  • What is your experience with managing multiple patients at once?
  • How would you handle a situation where you needed to quickly troubleshoot a malfunctioning piece of equipment?
  • What challenges have you faced in a clinical setting and how did you overcome them?
  • How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?
  • What would you do if you identified a potential safety hazard in the workplace?

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Spirometer. A diagnostic tool used to measure the amount of air a patient can inhale and exhale. (e. g. NDD EasyOne Spirometer)
  2. Peak Flow Meter. A device used to measure the maximum speed at which a person can exhale air from their lungs. (e. g. Microlife Peak Flow Meter)
  3. Nebulizer. A device that converts liquid medication into a fine mist to be inhaled into the lungs. (e. g. Omron Compact Compressor Nebulizer)
  4. Oxygen Regulator. A device that controls the amount of oxygen delivered to a patient. (e. g. Invacare HomeFill Oxygen Regulator)
  5. Suction Machine. A device used to suction airway secretions from a patient's airways. (e. g. DeVilbiss Vacu-Aide Suction Machine)
  6. Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Mask. A device that provides a steady stream of pressurized air to help keep the airways open during sleep apnea treatment. (e. g. ResMed AirFit P10 PAP Mask)
  7. Pulse Oximeter. A device that measures the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood. (e. g. Masimo Rad-87 Pulse Oximeter)

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)
  2. American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP)
  3. American Thoracic Society (ATS)
  4. National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC)
  5. American Lung Association (ALA)
  6. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  7. Association of Respiratory Technology and Technicians (ARTT)
  8. World Association for Respiratory Care (WARC)
  9. International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP)
  10. International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology (IFCN)

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Common Important Terms

  1. Respiratory Therapist. A health care professional who specializes in the treatment, management, and care of patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders.
  2. Mechanical Ventilation. The use of a machine to assist or replace the patient's normal breathing patterns.
  3. Oxygen Therapy. The administration of supplemental oxygen to a patient who is not able to breathe well on their own.
  4. Aerosol Therapy. The delivery of medication through an aerosol mist for inhalation.
  5. Pulmonary Function Testing. A diagnostic procedure used to measure lung capacity and function.
  6. Medical Gas Therapy. The administration of specialized gases, such as oxygen and nitrous oxide, to treat various conditions.
  7. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). An emergency procedure used to restore breathing and circulation in a person whose heart has stopped.
  8. Pulmonary Rehabilitation. A program designed to help people with chronic pulmonary conditions improve their quality of life.
  9. Respiratory Care. The comprehensive care of patients with cardiopulmonary diseases and disorders, including diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention.
  10. Pharmacology. The study of drug action and their effects on the body.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of degree is required to become a Respiratory Therapy Technician?

Most commonly, a two-year associate’s degree in respiratory therapy from an accredited institution is required to become a Respiratory Therapy Technician.

What type of skills do Respiratory Therapy Technicians need?

Respiratory Therapy Technicians need strong communication, problem-solving and organizational skills. They must also have a thorough knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, physiology and physics.

What are the duties of a Respiratory Therapy Technician?

The duties of a Respiratory Therapy Technician include monitoring patient’s vital signs, performing diagnostic tests, setting up and maintaining respiratory therapy equipment and keeping accurate records of patient care.

How much does a Respiratory Therapy Technician typically make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Respiratory Therapy Technicians in 2019 was $57,330.

What certifications do Respiratory Therapy Technicians need?

Most employers require Respiratory Therapy Technicians to have a valid certification from either the National Board for Respiratory Care or the National Board of Respiratory Therapy.

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