Respiratory therapists assist physicians in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with respiratory and cardiopulmonary disorders.
Respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages who have breathing problems associated with acute and chronic heart and lung disorders (e.g. asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema), sleep disorders, heart disease, trauma, high risk deliveries or organ system failures (e.g. kidney disease, diabetes, neurological disorders). They may work in areas such as anaesthesia, critical care, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary diagnostics and respiratory home care.
An Exciting Field of Work
In general, Respiratory Therapists:
- Perform diagnostic tests, such as arterial blood gas analysis and cardiopulmonary functions tests
- Monitor and operate respiratory equipment to administer treatments such as oxygen, oxygen-air mixtures, humidified air or medications
- Operate, monitor, maintain and test a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic equipment
- Assess patients and perform or assist with interventions such as airway maintenance, line insertions, inductions and intubations
- Perform artificial respiration and external cardiac massage
- Assist with transport of high-risk patients
- Participate in home care programs for chronic respiratory patients and provide patient and family education
- Participate in continuing education, quality improvement and research related to cardiac and pulmonary disorders
- Perform routine calibration, troubleshooting and minor repairs to respiratory related equipment;
- May provide guidance, training and orientation to other Respiratory Therapist staff, students and other health care professionals
Personal Characteristics / Skills
- Good judgment
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Compassion and an interest in caring for others
- Good organizational and problem-solving skills
- Ability to think and act quickly in crisis situations
- Ability to work effectively independently and as a member of a team
Education and Training
Completion of a college or university degree program in respiratory therapy, including clinical training is required.
Education program offered in New Brunswick
Respiratory therapy programs are offered in New Brunswick by the following educational institutions:
- University of New Brunswick – English program
- Université de Moncton – French program
- New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) – English program
- Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) – French program
Length of Study / Training
3.0 - 5.0 years
Licence and certification
In New Brunswick, Respiratory Therapists must be registered with the New Brunswick Association of Respiratory Therapists and pass the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) national registry examination governed by the Canadian Board for Respiratory Care (CBRC).
Helpful High School Courses
Employment and Common Working Conditions
Respiratory Therapists work in a variety of settings, such as:
- Hospitals and Medical clinics
- Extended care facilities
- Public health centres
- Home health care program and services
Respiratory therapists may work shifts, including nights, weekends and holidays. Some therapists work "on-call" and travel to assess and follow-up with patients.
Respiratory therapists may spend the majority of their working hours on their feet. Some may routinely help to lift immobile patients. Therapists working in emergency or intensive-care units or in patients' homes may experience high levels of stress.
Employment Prospects - GOOD
With the aging population, the demand for Respiratory Therapists is expected to grow.