Duties and responsibilities
A cardiopulmonary rehabilitation respiratory therapist works with patients who have been with diagnosed with ailments, such as coronary artery disease, angina, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and heart attack conditions. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Making sure patients understand their condition and their prescribed medical regimen
- Identifying unique risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, poor diet and other lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the patient’s health problems
- Educating and supporting patients in making healthier choices
- Recommending interventions ranging from lifestyle changes to medical treatments that could help reduce health risks
- Helping patients understand when they can safely resume normal activities
- Custom-designing and monitoring appropriate exercise programs.
All respiratory therapists will need at least an associate’s degree, but many employers may prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Educational programs are offered by colleges and universities, vocational–technical institutes, and the Armed Forces. Completion of a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care may be required for licensure.
Skills and relevant work experience
A cardiopulmonary rehabilitation respiratory therapist need to have a genuine passion for helping others and improving their well-being. They will also need skills such as:
- Active listening skills, as they will need to create trusting and open professional relationships with patients
- Verbal and written communication skills, a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation respiratory therapist will need to communicate their ideas and plans with their patients and with other healthcare professionals verbally, and they will need to respond to emails and letters
- Compassion, as cardiopulmonary rehabilitation respiratory therapist will work with people who are struggling will need to be able to sympathize with them
Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation respiratory therapist tend to work full time, they may also have to work evenings and weekends to fit the needs of their patients.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $61,330 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,850 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,980.
Employment prospects for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation respiratory therapist is likely to be high, as the baby-boom population is creating a demand to treat chronic illnesses.