Nursing Education
Nursing Education Opportunities in Mississippi - 2006  <more..>
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Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. They test the capacity of patients' lungs and analyze oxygen carbon dioxide concentration. They also measure the patient's potential for hydrogen which indicates the acidity or alkalinity levels of the blood. Lung capacity is measured by having the patient breathe into an instrument that gauges the volume and flow of oxygen during inhalation and exhalation.

By comparing the readings with the norms for the patient's age, height, weight and sex, a respiratory therapist can determine whether lung deficiencies exist. They are also responsible for drawing blood samples to test patients' carbon dioxide and pH levels. After the blood is drawn, it is placed into a gas analyzer and the results are relayed to the physician. Respiratory therapists are required to treat a wide range of patients ranging from premature infants whose lungs have not fully developed to elderly people whose lung functions have been diminished by disease. They are required to work with patients who need routine breathing treatments after a surgical procedure or provide life sustaining respiratory care for critically ill or injured patients.

Work Environment:

Five out of every six respiratory therapists work in a hospital setting. However, you will also find respiratory therapists in physician offices, nursing homes, home use respiratory equipment suppliers and in respiratory clinics.

High School Preparation:

High school students interested in a career in respiratory therapy should take courses in biology, health, mathematics, chemistry physics, English, computer skills, geometry, emergency medical technology and health occupations/ medical professions education.

College Requirements:

There are two credentialing levels for respiratory practitioners. They include certified respiratory therapy technician and registered respiratory therapist. The certified respiratory therapy technician generally graduates after a one-year certificate program. This classification administers general respiratory care and may assume clinical responsibilities or specific treatments. The registered respiratory therapist generally graduates from a two-year Associate Degree program. They must then take a national examination to become registered. Students interested in respiratory technology should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:

Job opportunities for respiratory therapists are expected to grow between 21 - 35% over the next 10 years. They will experience job growth faster than the average for all occupations in the United States. This job growth is due in part to the aging of the baby boomer generation, which has increased the number of individuals in the middle age to elderly portion of the population. This age group is more likely to suffer illnesses that affect heart and lung functions.


Average Annual Salary

Salary Range
$29,000 to $48,800

Professional Organizations:

American Association
of Respiratory Care
11030 Ables Lane
Dallas, TX 75229
Phone: (972) 243-2272
Fax: (972) 484-2720
Fax: (972) 484-6010

The National Board of Respiratory Care
8310 Nieman Road
Lenexa, KS 66214-1579
Phone: (913) 599-4200
Fax: (913) 541-0156

Mississippi Society for Respiratory care
P.O. Box 5152
Jackson, MS 39296

Download our Respiratory Therapy brochure here.
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