One of the most common questions you will be asked while in college is "What's your major?" And then there are the typical answers like psychology, nursing, or education. However, for a select, brave few that are asked that question it's respiratory therapy.
The most common questions we get once we tell them that is, "Well, what's that?" or even "Why do you want to do that?" I'm being serious when I say I hear this probably 90% of the time.
Why respiratory therapy, though? Well, when I originally wanted to be a respiratory therapist I just wanted to be able to help people in some way. At first I thought it would just be giving breathing treatments, but then I was able to go out and shadow a real respiratory therapist and I got to see everything that they got to do on a daily basis..and that's where I fell in love with it.
My peers and I in the respiratory care program will be cardiopulmonary specialists, which is just a fancy way of saying we specialize in your heart and lungs. And let me be the first to tell you: we're learning a lot and we know a lot. If you find yourself in our care one day, you can breathe easy (ha, get it?) We'll take care of you.
For some reason everyone seems to think that all respiratory therapists do is go around and give breathing treatments. While that is only partially true, there's more to it than just that.
We are responsible for rescue breathing and managing ventilators for life support when our patients can't breathe on their own. In emergency situations we have to get our hands dirty and stick a tube down someone's throat, but it's all for a good reason. Sometimes we'll get to teach people how to use inhalers and how to use their nebulizers, which doesn't sound that exciting, but to someone who can't breathe it sure is. And off course we'll have to go around and do breathing treatments, but that's not all bad.
When I first got into the respiratory care program I never thought I would be on my way to being a highly valued member of a patient care team. I originally wanted to help people and now I can in ways I never would have thought that I would or even could. I'm going to get to help others live better lives and that alone makes all the school and stress that comes with any medical program worth it.