Michener is celebrating Respiratory Therapy Week from October 27 to 31. All week we are raising awareness of the important work that Respiratory Therapists do to help keep people breathing. Whether it’s working in a critical care setting or educating the public on lifestyle and environmental factors that affect healthy breathing, Respiratory Therapists are key members of the healthcare team.
We sat down with Michener’s Respiratory Therapy faculty for a Q&A on what’s going on in the Respiratory Therapy field today.
What is a Respiratory Therapist?
Respiratory Therapists (RTs) often work in critical care environments in interprofessional teams with Physicians, Nurses and Physiotherapists to treat and monitor patients’ complex cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) function.
RTs can work in intensive care units, emergency departments, operating rooms, neonatal nurseries, patients’ homes, or specialized medical centres such as sleep labs.
What do respiratory therapists do?
RTs help patients whose ability to breathe is compromised because of serious heart and lung diseases or trauma. They also provide a variety of care for adults, children and newborns.
According to the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists, RTs:
- Treat patients that have experienced trauma or are in surgery or intensive care
- Help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Stabilize high-risk patients being moved by air or ground ambulance
- Provide support in high-risk deliveries for babies who have trouble breathing
- Educate the public and patients on appropriate measures to be taken during an influenza pandemic
- Provide information and instruction to healthcare workers on proper infection control practices particularly in the event of an infectious outbreak
What have been some of the latest innovations in Respiratory Therapy?
Recent innovations in RT include the methods in which we use life support equipment to ventilate our patients, as well as some of the techniques and equipment we use to provide oxygen and drug therapies. Our practice changes as new and better drugs and methods are discovered, but also by the demographics of the populations we serve. The tools that we have available to us are improving, which enables us to treat patients more efficiently and reliably. Improving quality of care for our patients assists in lowering the number of hospital days and costs of care for the healthcare system.
What is special about Michener’s Respiratory Therapy program?
Michener’s admission criteria are higher than many other RT programs in the country. Most of our students come to us with some post-secondary experience and many already have undergraduate degrees. Our employers see a more mature graduate entering their workforce.
Our program is also proud of the many clinical sites that we partner with for our student placements. We send students to some of the biggest and busiest centres in Canada and our students get exposure to a large variety and volume of patients.
As the number of people living with chronic conditions increases, where do you see the role of a Respiratory Therapist evolving in the future?
With an aging population, we will see more patients on oxygen in the home as well as more ventilation and life support. Our profession is preparing for this change, which will take more of us out of the acute care setting and into the chronic care and continuing care arena.
Our profession is also about health prevention and educating the public. We see wellness as a big part of our role for the future. Smoking cessation, restricting air and water pollution and reducing the spread of infectious diseases through proper infection control techniques remain paramount in keeping the population healthy and our planet safe. Our profession sees this role as one in which we can make a difference for the future.
Respiratory Therapy program