Respiratory Care Degree Programs

Respiratory care is a specialized health practice in which diagnosis and treatment is provided to individuals suffering from heart and lung illnesses. This medical practice specializes in nursing, cardiac and pulmonary diseases treatment.  It eventually ensures that an individual is at ease to breathe.  In emergency departments and intensive care units, special care is provided to patients suffering from breathing difficulties. It has to be provided in sensitive situations in which the life support of individuals has to be maintained. This practice requires one to stabilize and monitor patients in transit as it involves administering gases, anesthetics, and asthma medication.


Respiratory therapists provide overall care to individuals with breathing problems as emphysema, asthma and other such chronic respiratory disorders. They treat individuals in emergency situations such as, heart attacks, drowning cases or patients in shock. They treat newborn infants that have underdeveloped lungs due to being premature or the elderly with breathing diseases. Respiratory therapists usually treat individuals with cardiopulmonary disorders or other issues in breathing by interviewing and examining patients. They then in consultation with physicians decide a method of treatment. They diagnose and measure lungs functions. They assist patients suffering from respiratory illnesses by using chest physiotherapy and prescribing aerosol medical based pharmaceuticals. They supervise the progress of treatment plans they advise. They also manage the duties of respiratory technicians in performing tests and deducing results.

Degree Programs

In an associate program students learn to provide life support duties such as ventilator services. They have to learn the methods of administering gases like aerosol. They gain the knowledge required to make cardiopulmonary assessments as well as monitor the stability of patients’ breathing. The degree has to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. Students develop an understanding of functions and sensitivity of systems as well as organs as cardiopulmonary renal anatomy and even their physiology. Students gain an understanding of microbiology and learn techniques of effective decontamination. They learn the skills necessary in emergency settings and diagnose patients by checking their vital signs.  They learn appropriate measures required to control and treat infections. They gain a thorough understanding of air management in humans.

Career Opportunities

There is an expected increase in the aged and elderly population in the foreseeable future which is why respiratory therapists will increase in demand. In the next eight years, required number of these experts is expected to increase by at least 28%. Respiratory therapist will usually be required in nursing homes for the care of elderly and other such medical care centers. They could work in rehabilitation centers with individuals suffering from breathing issues caused by a traumatic event which could affect the physiology and psychology or both. (

Salary Outlook

The average annual income for respiratory therapists was $56,260 in 2011. The highest 10% earning of these therapists is $74,400 per year. (

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