Breathing is one of the most important elements
that keep humans alive. It is our way of life, yet many people take breathing
for granted. However, for the individuals that suffer from breathing problems,
each breath they take is a major accomplishment. Therefore, respiratory
therapists play a key role in any health care team. They treat a wide range of
patients from premature infants with lungs not fully developed, to children
with asthma, and to adults with lung disease. For those looking to become a
respiratory therapist, the respiratory care program at Crafton Hills College is
one of the most reputable programs in California.

            For
entrance into the Respiratory Care program at Crafton, one must complete Resp
050 – Introduction to Respiratory Care, Medical Terminology, Essentials of Human
Anatomy and Physiology, Introduction to Microbiology, and Introduction to
Chemistry. In addition, an applicant must submit a Counselor Verification of
Units for an A.S. Degree in Respiratory form. This form verifies that you have
completed the general education requirements. Furthermore, an applicant must take
the HESI exam to test the student’s knowledge in math, science, and reading
comprehension. The HESI exam must be completed by June 10. All applications are
due by July 1. Acceptance into the program is based on a point system. Each of
the five prerequisite courses, along with the counselor verification form,
count as one point. This totals six points. Six pointers will be admitted
first, according to the date of their application submittal. Next, would be
five pointers, etc.

A Certified Respiratory
Therapist (CRT) is the entry-level credential that is issued by the NBRC. CRTs
usually work with non-critical care patients and follow instructions from more
advanced respiratory therapists and doctors. Recently, the changes in education
requirements for CRTs and Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) have resulted
in both credentials having the same job responsibilities. However, the majority
of the United States has required the RRT credential to be the preferred
credential in most healthcare facilities. RRTs typically interview and examine
patients with breathing or pulmonary disorders, consult with physicians to
develop patient treatment plans, perform diagnostic tests such as measuring
lung capacity, treat patients using different methods such as aerosol
medications, and teaching patients how to use treatments (Student Handbook, p. 5).
Respiratory therapists use different tests to evaluate their patients. For
instance, a respiratory therapist may test a patient’s lung capacity by instructing
the patient to breathe into an instrument that measures the flow and volume of
oxygen when they inhale and exhale.  Another
responsibility of a respiratory therapist is to remove mucus from the lungs of
patients to allow them to breathe easier. They do this by performing chest
physiotherapy. For people suffering from lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis,
removing mucus is necessary. Furthermore, Respiratory therapists connect
patients to ventilators that deliver oxygen to the lungs. This involves
inserting a tube in the patient’s trachea and connecting the tube to the
ventilator. Some Respiratory therapists work in home care to teach patients and
their families how to use ventilators and other equipment in their own
households. A typical visit includes inspecting and cleaning equipment and
ensuring the patient knows how to properly use their medications.  As one can see, respiratory therapists are
involved in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and education related to
problems affecting the heart and lungs.

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To become a Respiratory
Care Practitioner (RCP) in the state of California one must hold a current RRT credential.
The CRT credential no longer meets the minimum requirements for licensure in
California. One must pass both the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) and Clinical
Simulation Examination (CSE). The TMC evaluates the abilities required of respiratory
therapists at entry to practice. The CSE consists of 20 problems pertaining to the
clinical setting and patient situation that is designed to simulate reality
(NBRC). In addition, RCP applicants must complete a mandatory law and
professional ethics course prior to applying for licensure. The topics for the
course include obligations that licensed respiratory care practitioners have in
regards to the patients under their care. Once an individual has earned his/her
RRT credential and has completed all the other requirements, they are eligible
to submit an Application for Licensure to the Respiratory Care Board of
California.

Some important qualities
that would make a great RCP include being compassionate, detail oriented,
having good interpersonal skills, patience, and problem-solving skills. Respiratory
therapists should be able to provide emotional support to patients undergoing
treatment and be sympathetic to their needs. Respiratory therapists must make
sure they are closely monitoring patients to ensure they receive the appropriate
treatments and medications in a timely manner. In addition, therapists should
have good interpersonal skills to interact with patients and be able to
communicate with other members of the medical team. The ability to speak clearly
while giving instructions and listening to concerns are both important skills
to have.  Another skill that therapists
should have is patience. Respiratory therapists often work for long periods with
patients who need a lot of attention. Patience is key to ensure the proper
treatment is administered. Lastly, respiratory therapists need good problem
solving skills to evaluate a patient’s needs and determine the best possible
course of action.

Respiratory therapists
are vital team members to any medical team. As they are the ones who make sure
a patient is breathing properly. They provide relief to patients with chronic
lung conditions; provide emergency care for patients, who suffered from heart
failure, or victims of shock. Respiratory therapists are responsible for
preventing, diagnosing, and treating various problems affecting the lungs by
using different treatments and breathing machines. 

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