A health specialty involved in the treatment, management, diagnosis and care of patients with cardiopulmonary dysfunction. The respiratory care practitioner is an expert in the use of therapeutic gases, ventilatory support, bronchopulmonary drainage, breathing exercises, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, aerosol administration, hyperinflation therapy, medications, humidification, and maintenance of natural, artificial, and mechanical airways. Respiratory care practitioners are also involved in diagnostic testing, monitoring, treatment, education, sales, and research. These include the measurement of lung volumes, pressures, flows, blood gas analysis, electrocardiograms, stress testing, sleep studies, smoking cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation, and asthma management.
Respiratory care offers the chance to work closely with patients and other health care practitioners in a career which is both personally and financially rewarding.
The graduate practitioner will find a health care system that is changing and expanding. In many areas of the health care system, a multi-skilled practitioner will be needed. The graduate respiratory care practitioner will be this person. While the greater number of graduates work in hospitals or hold teaching positions, the future undoubtedly will see openings in industry, rehabilitation centers, home care companies, nursing homes, health maintenance organizations, and individual businesses.