5 Essential Roles of Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapy holds immense importance in the healthcare industry. The role of respiratory therapists is vital in diagnosing, assessing, and treating respiratory patients. They play a vital role in optimal patient outcomes. Their role is critical when it comes to the well-being of the individual. In this blog, we will try to explore the critical role of respiratory therapists.

What are Respiratory Conditions, and What Causes Lung Issues?

Before we delve into the important role of respiratory therapists, let’s first have a bird’s eye view of respiratory conditions and the factors that cause this illness. Simply put, it is a disease that affects the lungs and other components of the respiratory system.

Smoking tobacco, infection, breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke, asbestos, radon, and air pollution are the primary causes of lung issues. Moreover, some critics of vaping devices like

THCA distillate, THCA flowers, and CBD products claim the latter also produce lung issues. But, preliminary research does not substantiate the narrative of this school of thought.

Understanding the Role of a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapy is a specialized field within medical science. Its primary focus is to assess, diagnose, manage, and treat patients with lung and breathing disorders.

These professionals are well-trained and specialized in the diagnosis, treatment, assessment, and management of people with respiratory illness. They work closely with healthcare providers and physicians. Not only do they develop detailed treatment plans for their patients, but they also create customized plans to meet each patient’s specific requirements.

5 Essential Roles of a Respiratory Therapist

There is no denying the fact that respiratory therapists play a crucial role in the healthcare system. They provide personalized and specialized care to patients with this medical condition. In addition, the following are the top 7 roles of a respiratory therapist:

1: Assessment and Diagnosis

No role of a respiratory therapist is complete without assessment and diagnosis. They are the cornerstone of respiratory therapy. These specialists utilize their specialized skills and knowledge to evaluate the respiratory functions of a patient. Moreover, they ascertain the underlying causes of symptoms.

2: Creating Treatment Plans

The second role of respiratory therapists is to create assessment plans based on the assessment and diagnosis. They work closely with healthcare professionals and physicians to bring about customized plans for each patient. These tailor-made plans enhance the overall quality of life of patients. Further, they are also helpful in improving respiratory functions.


Creating treatment plans requires a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition, lifestyle, medical history, and goals. By taking into account these factors, they create individualized plans to meet a diverse range of needs of each patient.

3: Managing Artificial Airway Devices and Ventilators

In addition to patients, respiratory therapists manage artificial airway devices and ventilators. These devices help patients breathe, especially in critical care settings. Furthermore, they also establish proper airflow to the lungs.

In intensive care units, respiratory therapists set up, adjust, and monitor ventilators to optimize ventilation and oxygenation for critical patients. Besides that, their expertise helps these life-saving devices function effectively and safely. As a result, they offer patients the care and support they need to recover and stabilize.

4: Educating Patients

Educating patients is another critical role of respiratory therapists. Patients get the necessary skills and knowledge, thanks to these professionals. Due to this, patients easily manage their respiratory conditions and prevent any unfortunate condition.

Furthermore, they also instruct patients about their medical condition, the significance of following prescribed treatments, and their potential triggers. With this education and awareness, patients can easily understand their condition. This leads to better self-management and overall good health outcomes.

5: Developing and Monitoring Customized Patient Care

As every patient comes with different needs, a therapist must develop an individualized treatment plan to meet unique patient needs. When it comes to creating treatment plants, they take into account several factors like a patient’s condition, lifestyle, medical history, and objectives. These plans can include medication, lifestyle alterations, chest physiotherapy, and breathing exercises to promote respiratory health and manage symptoms.

In addition to creating treatment plans, respiratory therapists also overview them to ensure their optimal performance. They closely monitor how patients respond to the treatment. And they also introduce necessary adjustments in these plans if required. Thanks to this vigilant approach, patients get the most appropriate and effective care in their treatment.

Skills Required for a Good Respiratory Therapist

Like any other job in healthcare, respiratory therapists must possess specific skills. Having a special set of skills allows them to multitask in addition to keeping their focus on patients’ needs. Following are some of the skills a good RT must have:

  • Compassion
  • Comforting bedside manner
  • Attention to details
  • Detail oriented
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Math and science skills
  • Time management
  • Patience with patients
  • Quick decision-making

What Common Conditions a Respiratory Therapist Treats

Below is the list of respiratory conditions an RT is believed to be treating:

  • Bronchitis
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Asthma
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Chest trauma that makes breathing difficult without assistance
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Spinal muscular dystrophy
  • Sleep-related breathing difficulties like sleep apnea

Pros and Cons of Being a Respiratory Therapist

Being a respiratory therapist comes with advantages and drawbacks, which are as follows:


  • Your effect on someone’s life is positive.
  • Many educational institutes offer respiratory therapy programs online.
  • Finding a job is easy because this field is exponentially growing.
  • The average salary of an RT was more than %62000 in 2021.
  • Prospects of career growth are encouraging. You can hold managerial positions in addition to performing research and teaching.  


  • To pursue this career, you must hold an associate degree from an accredited program at a minimum. And it takes at least two years to complete a course.
  • In the USA, all states except Alaska require you to pass a licensing exam if you want to work as a respiratory therapist. Besides that, you are also required to recertify all your credentials after every five years.
  • Work hours are long in this field. Their shift can last for up to 13 hours.
  • You may have to work on holidays and weekends.
  • This job is physically exhausting.
  • You may have to work night shifts.