School of Medicine Health Professions Program
Respiratory therapists help people who suffer from chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. They work with people of all ages—from babies to the elderly—to help them breathe more easily, whether they have sleep disorders or have had heart attacks recently. Respiratory therapists can provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock. They must cultivate many different skills to develop and to implement effective care plans, protocols, and disease management programs; they have to be quick and critical thinkers, knowledgeable about health conditions and procedures, and kind and thoughtful practitioners. Advanced-level therapists participate in clinical decision making and patient education, the development and implementation of protocols and treatment plans, health promotion, disease prevention, and disease management. Respiratory therapists work as part of the medical team under the supervision of a physician, but they exercise considerable independent judgment in providing respiratory therapy to patients.