Respiratory Therapist

How to Become the Best Possible Respiratory Therapist You Can Be

Respiratory therapy is a challenging and demanding healthcare specialty. But if you’re willing to give it everything you’ve got, you can carve out a very successful and fulfilling career.

The Benefits of Being a Respiratory Therapist

When it comes to healthcare professions, respiratory therapy (RT) is one of the more attractive specialties. It allows you to do meaningful work and get to know patients up close and personal. Benefits include:

  • Flexibility. There are so many individual specialties within the field of respiratory therapy. This includes specializing in treating people with cystic fibrosis or asthma. You can go into pediatric or neonatal issues. You could even try pulmonary research, or assist with anesthesiologists in surgical settings.
  • Minimal education. Relatively speaking, there isn’t a whole lot of advanced education or training requirements to become an RT. You need an associate’s degree in respiratory care, as well as a certification by the National Board for Respiratory Care. You’ll obviously need to take online continuing education courses as well.
  • Steady demand. There’s no replacement for an RT. In a world where other jobs are being automated with technology, respiratory therapists will always serve a very specific role. Between hospitals and outpatient healthcare facilities, you’ll always have an opportunity somewhere.
  • High income. The median annual salary for a respiratory therapist is $70,691, while the top 10 percent of earners make $82,474 or more. That’s a pretty decent income without having to get a lot of advanced education or degrees.

Every RT has their own personal list of job perks and career benefits, but these are a few of the ones that stand out most. As you carve out your own career, you’ll experience some or all of these:

3 Tips for Being the Best RT You Can Be

While there are plenty of job opportunities in the field of respiratory therapy, there’s also plenty of competition for the most attractive and highest-paying positions. Keeping that in mind, here are several tips for being the best RT you can be:

  1. Stay Motivated

There are a lot of technical skills and traits that can be taught or acquired in school, but there are certain ones that only you can bring out. Self-motivation and confidence? Those are on you.

“I want a therapist that is knowledgeable in their profession and is motivated to improve themselves, either by staying current on new respiratory topics or by trying to advance their career by obtaining a specialty credential, such as the ACCS or asthma educator, or even working on a higher educational degree,” says Roy Palmer, Jr, RRT. 

Confidence is big as well. And while there’s a difference between being confident and cocky, developing a healthy level of assuredness about yourself will go a long way in helping you be successful in this field. 

  1. Improve Your Soft Skills 

It’s not just about acquiring the right technical skills. You also have to pay attention to soft skills. More specifically, focus on cultivating the right bedside manner.

To create a healthy bedside manner, you should practice traits like listening, showing empathy, and being calm under pressure. You also need to be able to communicate with patients of all ages, including young children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. This ensures you’re able to serve as many patients as you possibly can, while helping them feel safe and cared for. 

  1. Be a Good Coworker

It’s not just about your patients. While they’re certainly the priority, you also have to pay attention to your coworkers. You want to be known as someone who improves the quality of your workplace – not someone who takes away from it.

When it comes to getting promotions (or getting recommended for another position elsewhere), it’s the individuals who are “team players” that will get the most consideration. Practice being selfless, generous, and agreeable. Be the person who diffuses conflict rather than the one who causes it.

Adding it All Up

If you want to become one of the top RTs in the field, the path to success is clear. Stay motivated, improve your soft skills, be a good coworker, and never settle for being average. You have to put in the work in order to grow. Make sure you’re giving it everything you’ve got.