Respiratory Therapy

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Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Respiratory therapists interact with a diverse group of  patients ranging from newborn and pediatrics to adults and the elderly. Respiratory therapists work closely with physicians and nurses at the bedside of patients. Respiratory therapists are called upon in these and other situations to implement their problem-solving and decision-making skills. They perform a vital role as a member of the healthcare delivery team.

Diseases/Conditions Requiring Respiratory Care

The diseases/conditions that often require respiratory care are:

  • asthma
  • post-operative complications
  • emphysema
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • chronic bronchitis
  • near-drowning
  • acute bronchitis
  • smoke inhalation
  • pneumonia and infectious lung disease
  • interstitial lung disease
  • trauma
  • aspiration of gastric  contents
  • cystic fibrosis
  • occupational lung disease, e.g., asbestosis (pneumoconioses)
  • meconium aspiration
  • epiglottitis
  • laryngotracheobronchitis
  • bronchiolitis


Therapist Involvement in Specialty Areas

Respiratory Therapists are involved in many specialty areas of the hospital:

  • newborn labor and delivery
  • pulmonary function laboratory
  • neonatal intensive care unit
  • hyperbaric oxygenation unit
  • pediatric intensive care unit
  • sleep disorders center
  • adult intensive care unit
  • burn unit
  • cardiovascular diagnostic laboratory


Skills Developed In Medical Areas

Cardiorespiratory Care students at the University of South Alabama study theory and develop skills in the following medical areas:

  • physical assessment of the patient
  • echocardiography
  • oxygen therapy
  • cardiac catheterization
  • aerosol and humidity therapy
  • neonatal/pediatric cardiorespiratory care
  • lung expansion therapy
  • hyperbaric oxygenation
  • advanced cardiac life support
  • pulmonary rehabilitation and home care
  • airway management
  • arterial blood gas analysis
  • cardiorespiratory pharmacology
  • pulmonary function testing
  • mechanical ventilation
  • sleep disorders
  • hemodynamic monitoring
  • cardiorespiratory management/education
  • electrocardiography
  • clinical research
  • bronchoscopy