Respiratory Therapist: Catching Your Breath

<P>A respiratory therapist is trained to interview and examine patients suffering from breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders. Trained individuals can professionally consult with physicians, perform diagnostic tests, administer treatment, judge treatment progress, supervise technicians and instruct patients on self medication.</P> <P>The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2010 mean wage for the profession at $54,000, the low being $40,000 and the high at $75,000. The bureau expects demand for the profession to climb nearly 30% between 2010 and 2020. The growth will be in response to an aging population and the increasing need for treating respiratory system diseases in hospitals and nursing homes.</P> <P>The profession requires at least an associate degree from an accredited school however bachelor programs are available. The accreditation must include curriculum approval from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.</P> <P>The profession is also regulated in all states but Alaska. Typically a test on the respiratory system is required, the Certified Respiratory Therapist Exam (CRT), to earn a license. Additional certification is also available from the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC). The NBRC is a not for profit organization created by doctors and therapists in 1960. Certification is available in two general and several specific fields. The specific fields are related to the age of the patient and to different respiratory system diseases.</P> <P>The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) is a professional organization and has been servicing members of the profession since 1947. The present membership of 49,000 therapists has access to a job bank where resumes and job openings can be posted.</P> <P>The AARC lists 444 schools providing at least an accredited associate degree for a respiratory therapist. Typically curriculums will include a required internship or a practicum. Partnering with a local school, technical college, community college or university provides a pathway for the development of more qualified employment candidates and will provide immediate access to experience proven prospects.</P> <P>School partnering can offer more than just internship possibilities. Offering grants, scholarships, awarding prizes to seniors for research into the respiratory system, will create a long term and renewing pool of qualified employment candidates. Professional sponsorship for school programs encourages program selection and provides an incentive for excelling at the course work and completing the program.  </P> <P>Therapists looking for work will be using social media like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Establishing a presence on these sites will place your organization in a target rich environment. Traditional adverting in newspaper based want ad sections and even on Craigs list misses a large sector of the potential workforce.</P> <P>Career path management is an effective inducement. Providing education stipends and pathways into management positions not only improves the quality of the workforce but increase retention. Increased retention reduces future recruitment costs helping to offset the benefit expenses.</P> <P>Federal and state training programs especially targeted for returning armed service veterans offer direct payments and tax incentives for their hiring and training. Additional funding is available targeting specific social and economical groups. Contacting the local Veterans Administration Office and a states Economic Development Office will quickly make a connection with the program administrators. Many of these programs can also be used to improve the skills of qualified individuals already in the organization.</P> <P>The increasing demand for respiratory therapist services is inevitable. The opportunity to meet the demand will be dependent on successful recruiting and retention policies. These policies will require being visible where the workforce is searching such as on Facebook and other social media sites and participation in professional organizations. Exploring public programs can reduce the cost of developing and training staff in the required areas.</P>

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