Respiratory problems are extremely common. From treating COVID-19 complications to asthma and sleep apnea, respiratory therapists (RTs) are needed to help people cope with illnesses and chronic conditions affecting the lungs.
RTs are needed in hospitals all over the country. With the rise of COVID-19, the specialty has been gaining recognition and demand, causing a need for more RTs on a short-term or long-term basis.
Many RTs and respiratory nurses now travel around the country on short contracts, providing care where and when it’s needed the most. Respiratory therapist jobs can be extremely rewarding.
What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?
Respiratory therapists are not doctors but are certified medical professionals specializing in conditions affecting the lungs and breathing. They collaborate with patients’ doctors to provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.
RTs work with patients who have a wide variety of respiratory illnesses. Some of these conditions include:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (common in COVID-19 patients)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Spinal muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Lung injuries/trauma
- Underdeveloped lungs in premature babies
- Sleep apnea
In addition to helping with diagnostics, RTs can operate equipment needed to treat serious respiratory conditions, such as ventilators. With the emergence of COVID-19, many more RTs were needed to help patients recover from this devastating virus, which can cause symptoms requiring ventilator support.
Where Respiratory Therapists Work
Because they are involved in treating a wide range of lung conditions, RTs are needed in a wide variety of healthcare settings. Hospitals always need respiratory therapists to support their physicians, but RTs can also work in a range of other environments, including:
- Intensive-care units
- Emergency rooms
- Nursing homes
- Outpatient clinics
- Sleep centers
- In-home care
RTs have a choice in where they want to work, making this an attractive career path. Some therapists also specialize in working with specific populations, such as children or seniors. Because of the demand for their work, RTs can find the setting that suits their skills and interests best.
Respiratory Therapist Salary
Respiratory therapists don’t need to go to medical school, but they can earn a good salary regardless. In 2020, the median respiratory therapist salary was close to $63,000. High growth in demand has given RTs the ability to negotiate for higher pay.
Therapists who take on short-term contracts as traveling RTs can generally net a higher annual respiratory therapy salary by making more per hour. A range of factors contributes to the offers individual therapists can expect.
Start your new Respiratory Therapist career with a TheraEx recruiter today!
Benefits of a Traveling Respiratory Therapist
Many RTs work at one hospital permanently, preferring the routines of a predictable schedule. For others, however, traveling on short-term contracts at different hospitals is an exciting and fulfilling way to pursue a career as a respiratory therapist. Hospital staffing needs fluctuate, meaning that RTs can be needed temporarily.
In addition to higher than average pay, traveling as a respiratory therapist has many benefits. You can build skills and boost your resume so you can advance your career and earn more. You will get the chance to travel, live, and work in new places, allowing you to satisfy your need for adventure and new experiences.
Generally, RTs work with medical staffing agencies to find travel contracts. Reputable staffing agencies will assist with the entire process, from the placement to the paperwork. They will also help traveling medical professionals with finding housing and some even offer reimbursement.
To become a respiratory therapist, a minimum of an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy is required. Some students earn a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy or pulmonary science. These programs include the clinical experience to prepare students for their careers.
After graduation, candidates must pass exams to earn credentials from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Certifications are either certified respiratory therapist (CRT) or registered respiratory therapist (RRT). Maintaining these certifications involves ongoing professional development activities.
Those who want to work as traveling RTs may need a year or two of experience before taking on short contracts. Adapting to new clinical settings quickly is easier for those who have practiced their skills before starting short-term assignments.
Why Should Respiratory Therapists Choose TheraEx?
If you’re a respiratory therapist and you want to start working in a traveling position, then choosing the right staffing company can help ensure that you have a great experience.
TheraEx Staffing is a therapist-owned agency that offers medical professionals excellent benefits, great pay, exciting career development opportunities, and peace of mind.
When you work with TheraEx, we walk you through the process of setting up contract respiratory therapy jobs from start to finish so you don’t have to stress out about the details. We offer great benefits, including health insurance, housing reimbursement, and 24/7 support.
Respiratory therapists choose TheraEx Staffing for our outstanding support and competitive compensation packages. To learn more about opportunities for RTs with TheraEx, apply today by filling out our contact form or calling (866) 440-2445.