A Day in the Life of a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapist is not the most commonly known occupation in the world and most of the people who have heard of it are probably not very familiar with what the job entails. For those who are considering following a path toward becoming a respiratory therapist – and for those who are simply curious about what one does – the following is a brief rundown of what a typical day might be like for someone in this exciting profession.

First of all, it may be something of a misnomer to refer to any day in the life of a respiratory therapist as “typical.” Most days are anything but, and the rollercoaster of emotions that many therapists say they have experienced in a single day include joy, excitement, sadness, despair, fulfillment, and compassion.

But if there is one thing that each day does have in common in this profession, it is the opportunity to change lives for the better.

There is what has been described by many respiratory therapists as a strong sense of anticipation upon arriving at work every day. It is never known until after you arrive whether you will be helping a newborn baby get air into its lungs and breathe its first breath or help an open heart surgery patient properly control his life support equipment. Perhaps you will be intubating a patient who has suffered cardiac arrest, or teaching the family of a patient who has just been placed on a ventilator how to care for them and properly manage their equipment.

Your day will also depend on the type of health care environment you work in. If it is a pulmonary function lab, you will likely be determining how much damage a patient’s lungs have sustained by administering various tests. If it is an intensive care unit, you may be using and monitoring ventilators in patients who cannot breathe without help.

Regardless of what setting you are in or what your specific duties are for a given day, you can rest assured that your job as a respiratory therapist will be as varied as it is fulfilling.


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