Respiratory therapy is a branch of allied health sciences that deal with diagnosis, treatment, management and care of patients with respiratory or cardiopulmonary (heart/ lung) ailments and breathing disorders. Respiratory care is a professionally and personally rewarding career with a balanced blend of technology and patient interaction. Patients with acute and chronic respiratory problems require direct care of Respiratory therapists. Respiratory therapists (RTs) alias Respiratory care practitioners are specialized, skilled health care professionals who diagnose, monitor and treat patients suffering from breathing problems. Respiratory therapists are the important members of the health care team, who work under the medical direction of specialised doctors. They are educated to treat all age groups, from newborns to the elderly and offer intensive care and therapeutic treatments to patients with respiratory diseases. RTs provide temporary relief to patients who have breathing difficulties such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The primary duty of a respiratory therapist involves administration of oxygen, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, management of mechanical ventilators, administering drugs to the lungs, monitoring cardiopulmonary systems and measuring lung function. They work with other health care professionals and carry out treatment plans, which involves removing mucus or liquid secretion from a patient's lungs by suction or inserting a ventilation tube into the patient's windpipe and connecting it to a machine that delivers oxygen. Respiratory therapists work also involves management, disease prevention, emergency care, and the early detection of pulmonary disorders. How to Become an Respiratory Therapist Educational Qualification : To be a Respiratory Therapist, one should possess a bachelor's or master's degree in Respiratory Therapy and some work experience in the field. Those who have passed 10+2 with Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics with a minimum of 60% marks can apply for bachelors degree course in respiratory therapy. Some institutes admit students on the basis of merit in the entrance examination. Duration of the course is 3 years including a six-month or 1 year internship. Those interested in further studies can do 2 year M.Sc. Respiratory Therapy or postgraduate program in Respiratory Therapy. The minimum eligibility for M.Sc. Respiratory Therapy is B.Sc. in Respiratory Therapy degree with 50% marks. MediCiti Hospital, Hyderabad offers Postgraduate program in Respiratory Therapy for MBBS candidates. Graduates with any science background can also become a respiratory therapist by pursuing a diploma course in Respiratory therapy/ technology. There are several institutes in India offering 1-year diploma course, 2-year Postgraduate diploma and advanced Postgraduate diploma in Respiratory Therapy. Aspiring candidates can do any of these courses and become a professional. Medvarsity Online Limited, Hyderabad offers 6 months Fellowship Program in Respiratory Therapy. Those who intend to do research work can go for this course which is offered on regular and correspondence basis. Physiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, respiratory nurses and any other health care professionals involved in or with an interest in pulmonary rehabilitation together with respiratory consultants or General Practitioners are eligible for this course. This course deals with the components, methodology and effectiveness of Comprehensive Pulmonary Rehabilitation at introductory and advanced levels. Course Area : Respiratory Courses provide training on respiratory anatomy, physiology & diseases, medical physics, detailed training on handling ventilators, blood gas, acid base abnormalities etc. Students are also trained to provide therapeutic and life support services to patients, which involves administration of gases and aerosols, ventilator life services as well as cardiopulmonary assessment and monitoring. They will also learn how to treat all kinds of patients from premature infants having developing lungs, to elderly patients with lung ailments, and emergency care to patients who have had a heart attack, stroke or shock. Skills required for Respiratory Therapists Respiratory Therapists must possess various skills to work with patients suffering from respiratory ailments. Patience, persistence, dedication, good hand eye coordination, team work spirit, critical thinking, compassion, active listening, problem solving & decision-making skills, and excellent organizational, communication and interpersonal skills are the desirable personal traits required for respiratory therapists. Respiratory therapists should have an interest in helping people in distress. They should also possess a considerable physical and emotional strength to spend long periods of time working with a single patient as well as the ability to work under pressure and handle competing priorities. Respiratory therapists work with sophisticated medical equipment like mechanical ventilators, computer based testing equipment and other devices, so it is essential for them to have knowledge on how to apply high-tech devices for the care and treatment of patients. Job Profile and Career Opportunities of Respiratory Therapist Respiratory Therapists provide care and life support for patients suffering from respiratory problems and helps them to keep breathing. Duties and responsibilities of a respiratory therapist might include: • Diagnosing lung and breathing disorders and recommending treatment methods • Interviewing patients and doing chest physical exams to determine what kind of therapy is best for their condition • Consulting with physicians to recommend a change in therapy, based on an evaluation of the patient • Analyzing breath, tissue, and blood specimens to determine levels of oxygen and other gases • Managing ventilators and artificial airway devices for patients who can’t breathe normally on their own • Educating patients and families about lung disease so they can maximize their recovery Trained respiratory therapy professionals have ample opportunities in the healthcare industry. They can find jobs in the various departments of hospitals such as Respiratory care, Anesthesiology and Pulmonary Medicine. Respiratory therapists are mostly appointed in Intensive care units, emergency departments, Operating rooms, Neonatal nurseries and critical care teams in hospitals. Nursing homes, clinics and health care centers, pulmonary rehab centers, pulmonary function testing labs also offer openings for respiratory therapists. They may also be employed in non-hospital environments like wellness centers, diagnostic laboratories, educational institutions etc. Respiratory Therapy graduates can start their career as Junior Respiratory Therapists in hospitals or other public or private health care centers. They can also work in offices of physicians or other health practitioners, nursing care facilities and home healthcare services. After obtaining sufficient work experience they can get promoted to the position of respiratory therapist, respiratory therapy technicians or pulmonary function technologists. Those who enjoy teaching can make a successful career in a faculty position at a school of respiratory therapy or as a clinical education coordinator for a hospital or other respiratory therapy department. Respiratory therapists who specialize in home care may open their own respiratory home care companies to provide respiratory diagnostic services, patient care education, and other services related to the field. Some of these professionals may also work as anesthesia assistants or perfusionists. Interested persons can make their career in medical equipment sales and marketing in consumer-goods rental firms that supply respiratory equipment for home use. Opportunities are also available in various health care settings as Business Head/ Group Product Manager - Respiratory Pharma Marketing, Clinical Application Specialist – Respiratory, Group Therapy Manager/ Group Product Manager, Senior Medical Officer (Anaesthesia), Manager - Medical Services, Product Specialist/Product Trainer, Application Specialist etc. Salary of Respiratory Therapists Salary of respiratory therapists depend mainly on their work experience, educational qualification and the location and deputation of the hospital they work for. Graduates can start their career as junior respiratory therapist with an initial salary of around Rs, 12,000 - 15,000 per month. Those with a masters degree in Respiratory Therapy can earn between Rs. 23,000/- to Rs. 35,000/- per month at the beginning. After a few years of experience, they can be promoted to senior positions and earn much more. Respiratory therapists working in the private sector and nursing homes can earn higher salary than those working in the government sector. Self-employed respiratory therapists can earn more than Rs 1 lakh per month. Those working as service holders (in Armed Forces) avail other benefits like paid holidays, insurance, medical facilities, pension plans etc.