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What Is A Respiratory Therapist

Melissa Allen ,RRT, MS, CHES

What is a Respiratory Therapist? If you are one, you probably know, respiratory therapists are understaffed and overworked and few understand what we do. The patients and families confuse us with other disciplines while other professions have huge misconceptions about our duties. This does not stop us from being amazing and, in my not so humble opinion, more often than not being the heroes of the hospital. Like all heroes we don’t seek praise and tend to hide in the shadows until we are needed. Then we are there, front and center: saving lives, coming up with innovative ideas and solving problems no one else in the room is aware even exist.

Perhaps it says something about us that we are not a profession that seeks praise at every turn. What makes us amazing, is in fact that we are the tough ones, the ones who go days on end without time off, we were saying “winter is coming” long before any TV show. As RT’s we see patient after patient without calling for help because we know its not available. We are the ones who respond when everyone else is out of ideas; Time after time, we fix the patient and the problem quietly, humbly and then move on with our shift. We don’t ask for credits or pats on the back. Many times the families still don’t know we exist even after we help their loved ones. They do not know what a Respiratory Therapist is.

This is what I ask that we change. We are not seen on flashy television shows because some other discipline is seen doing our job. Respiratory Therapists should be promoted. Small children should want to grow up to be one of us because we are Respiratory and we are substantial. It is time we step out of the shadows, spread the word far and wide. We are Respiratory, we are every bit as breathtaking as with are breath giving. We are the heroes of healthcare, night after night , day after day all across this country and beyond.

It is time to let the world know, what a Respiratory Therapist is.

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