The practice of respiratory care requires therapists to:       

  • administer many medical gases and cardiorespiratory drugs;
  • help diagnose and treat patients with disorders associated with the respiratory and cardiovascular systems;
  • act as technical resources for both physicians and other health care professionals;
  • monitor patients and often assist in the development of the respiratory care plan;
  • evaluate the results of diagnostic tests such as arterial blood gases and pulmonary function studies;
  • perform maintenance of mechanical ventilation for critically ill patients; and
  • assist physicians with procedures such as bronchoscopies, arterial cannula insertions, and heart catheterizations.

 Therapists work in a variety of settings including:

  • intensive care units, where they treat critically ill infants, children, or adults;
  • general care areas of the hospital giving basic respiratory care;
  • diagnostic laboratories performing pulmonary function tests, cardiovascular studies, and some neurological diagnostic procedures;
  • nursing homes, clinics, and patient homes;
  • administration; and
  • education.