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Respiratory care is usually provided by respiratory therapists or respiratory therapy technicians and involves diagnosing, treating and providing healthcare to people suffering from respiratory or breathing disorders and cardiopulmonary problems. The respiratory care therapist would be providing care to the patient on the direction of the physician. It is a very interesting branch of healthcare. They would be responsible for the treatment of the patient and would have to supervise the treatment provided by other healthcare professionals including respiratory care technicians. A respiratory therapist would also be providing emergency respiratory care to patients suffering from trauma, heart attack, drowning, etc, and hence have play a major role in saving the life of several patients. Hence, the job satisfaction obtained in delivering respiratory care is high.
A respiratory therapist would be assuming greater amount of responsibilities over other healthcare professionals. They would be working on the direction of the physician, who would have to assign patients and responsibilities in ensuring their respiratory care. The respiratory therapists would have to discuss with the physician about the manner in which care would be provided and the modifications that have to be made with relation to the medical support. Frequently, the treatment provided by respiratory therapists are complex involving independent decision-making and providing independent care to the patient. The therapist is assigned patients and the respiratory therapist is responsible for providing care and ensuring management of all the responsibilities of the patient.
Another point of respiratory care that really fascinates me is that such a treatment modality is required to be provided to patient belonging to various age groups including premature babies, children, adults and elders. In premature babies, the lungs are not fully developed and hence they require breathing aides. In elders, the lungs may not function well due to disease and hence, they require relief from respiratory problems.
The manner in which respiratory care is provided is also interesting. The first step involves evaluating the patients by physical examination, lung function tests, blood tests (to determine the pH, oxygen concentration, etc), vitals, general statistics, etc. Once the patient is thoroughly evaluated, respiratory care needs to be provided in the form of treatment measures or care procedures. This may include administration of oxygen, air mixtures, administration of medications in the form of aerosols, chest physiotherapy, placement of a nasal cannula, ventilator therapy (to deliver pressurized oxygen to the lungs), endo-tracheal tube, etc. All these measures would ensure that the respiratory problems of the patient are understood, and the patient’s condition is improved. The physician would have to ensure that appropriate directions are given to the therapist and according the therapy can be changed or modified depending on the needs of the physician and other specialists.
Another issue that fascinates me about respiratory care is the care setting that this branch of medicine can function under. Respiratory care can be provided in the hospitals, in-patient settings, out-patient settings, critical care units, intensive care units, neonatal units, trauma care centers, ER, clinics, sleep clinics, private practices or even homes. A respiratory therapist can function under various care areas including disease management, pulmonary rehabilitation, prevention of diseases, lung assessment, smoking cessation programs, paramedic units, etc. A respiratory therapist can also work in the field of research and teaching students in becoming respiratory therapists. As a part of the healthcare system, they can also be involved in framing processes required in managing information of the patient under various healthcare settings. Overall, the role of a respiratory therapist seems to be very important and interesting.
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