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Career Profile: Respiratory Therapist

Career Profile: Respiratory Therapist

Kevilin Prah, Respiratory Therapist, Washington Hospital Center, Washington D.C.

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

More on Respiratory Therapy

Salary: $35,200 - $64,190
Min. Education: Associate's
Related Careers: Cardiovascualar Technologist & Technician, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Other procedures and responsibilities include:

• Draw blood for an arterial blood gas analysis that helps us to determine how well the patient’s blood is oxygenated. If necessary, we can modify the care plan based on the results.

• Care for patients that are intubated or on a ventilator to support their breathing. I have to monitor these patients very closely. Their care includes changing pressures on the ventilator per doctor’s order, suctioning their airway to remove any secretions, and administering medications such a bronchodialator to help them breath better.

• Interact and communicate with staff doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and those in the pharmacy department about the respiratory care of my patients.

What I like best/least about my work…

What I like best about my work is the great satisfaction I get from my job. When it comes to breathing, it’s everything. It plays a major role in carrying oxygen to the rest of our body. It means a lot to me to help someone with an asthma attack breath easier by giving him/her a bronchodilator and some oxygen. It is also very gratifying to be able to treat someone who has suddenly stopped breathing in a way that supports his or her life. The best part of my work is knowing that each day I’m responsible for making my patients feel better and breath easier.

What I like least about my work is not being able to help a patient in an emergency situation and the end result is death. A challenging part of my work is caring for non-compliant patients who refuse any form of treatment or care provided. In this work you can’t procrastinate or put-off treatment until another day.

My career goals are…

My career goals are to go to medical school and specialize in pulmonology. I think that being a respiratory therapist is preparing me for that step. I’m currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Science degree program at the University of the District of Columbia, studying biology. In 5-10 years from now, I hope to be in medical school, if everything goes as planned.

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