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Readers Respond: The Real Life of a Respiratory Therapist

Responses: 60


RRT it's hell

I have been an RT for about 28 to 30 years and I have worked in large to small hospitals. I feel after all these years that I am being punished, like being in purgatory for choosing this profession. Now I will tell you why I would never ever in a million years advise anyone with a lick of brains to go into this field. 1. The money sucks. 2. There is really nowhere to advance to except to become a supervisor, lead therapist or charge therapist or maybe get some special NICU specialist title or even become a cert. or reg. pulmonary function tech. but these really don't pay you well enough for all the BS you have to go through to get them. 3. You will work with the worst managers and supervisors that you can imagine. Most of these people are just automatons who never will support you about anything, especially if you get written up by a nurse. Forget it. No matter how innocent you may be you will always be wrong. 4. Get a good ED. BUT NOT IN RT.

rt backwards

This field is going backwards education wise. When everyone is going up for BS minimum, RT schools are opening up everywhere flooding the market with new grads. It is impossible to get a job nowadays. There is too much kissing a** in this field too, its true, its not what you know but who you know. You also get to work with rts that only sleeps because they are too tired working 7 days a week. There is no way you can advance in this field. If you are thinking about doing RT, think again.
—Guest rt stuck on reverse

attitude of gratitude

I guess if you have a positive attitude most things in life are good. If the shift before you leaves all the work for you, I guess you will never be out of work. It will only be a matter of time before your superiors see you as the go-to person because you have a can do attitude. People need help and that is what you signed on for. If you love them and their condition karma will see to your success. Keep your chin up. Go exercise in your off time and enjoy your good health. Life is too short to be miserable. Good luck all.
—Guest marc

I guess it must be better in Canada

I have been a RRT for 4 years, and to me becoming a respiratory therapist was the best decision I could have made. Many of the negative responses on this forum seem to be related to: not enough money, and not enough respect from your fellow healthcare professionals. My response to these posts is this. What I did today at the university hospital that I work in was, as follows: Ran to a 'Respiratory STAT' page in CCU- intubated a difficult airway patient with a glidescope, with the assistance of another RRT. Intubated, and put a radial arterial line in a cancer patient with a GCS of 3. The two above events are only part of what I was required to do during my 12 hour emergency shift. The nurses/MD's were appreciative. The role is great. But, after reading some of the negative comments I wanted to give someone interested, an idea of what a RRT's day can consist of. Ventilator changes/O2 therapy are up to the RRT-no MD order required. Salary- I've made 85,000-107,000/YR in the last 4yrs.
—Guest Dan

I love doing my job

I have been an RT for 10 years now. I have had several different jobs as a RT. I hated working as a home care RT but, I love working in the hospital now that I am back in the hospital I will never leave. I work at a great hospital that is a great team and we really do care for our pt's. I can't tell you how many times I have been told that MMH is the most care hospital that one of my pt's has step in to. I thank the Lord for my great job.
—Guest steph

What are you people talking about?

I'm not sure where you all work, but I love my job. Yes it can be hard and stressful and it doesn't pay as well as nursing... But nurses where I'm from make a TON!!! I've been working for 4 years and make about $80,000. My health system tops us out at about $130,000. More than enough to live off of. I understand their isn't as much mobility as nursing, you can do anything with that job... but I think some of you have never had a truly limiting profession. I worked in EMS as an EMT and medic for almost 5 years... It would have taken me another 20 years to make what I started at as a RT. If you are in this field to get respect from doctors and nurses, than you'd better become a doctor, because otherwise we are all lower than them on the clinical ladder whether you are a nurse, RT, OT, PT, Medic, you name it. If you are burnt out because of the lack of respect, I recommend not being in healthcare, because the nurses take a beating just as bad as the RTs do.
—Guest guest jrt


I am an OJT then went and got my RRT. at a major university college. I have a BS in Health Science. I have been in Respiratory for 30 yrs. I learn something new every day that I go to work. Every patient is different. I work at a Level 1 Trauma Center. We have therapist driven protocols for treatments and vent management. I work with varying ages. This has been the most rewarding career and I challenge you RRT's to do the same. The list of things we do is teach doctors and nurses about our field. We also are the first one called before the doctor. We decide if we need a doctor. We work very closely with the nurses and the families. It is not just handing out albuterol. You have to use your brain daily. I have been in Managment and Education and I like patient care best. It is very rewarding when a patient comes back to the hospital just to see you. A job is what you make it. good Luck
—Guest utmckrt


I feel bad for you guys. You talk about the people in your department that always complain yet that is what you came on here to do. My job couldn't be more fullfulling. We are respected by the doctors and the nurses. We draw gases in the ICU's and make whatever changes to the vent that we feel is needed and don't have to get an order for anything other then meds. See new and exciting things every day. Assignments are based on workload which makes it fair for everyone. Usually we have about 7-10 pts when in an ICU and never take our transports, people on the floors will take them. If you are on the floor that day you have 1 or 2 floors, not covering an entire building. We have a weekend program so if you are not on that program you only work 1 saturday or sunday a month sometimes 2.
—Guest RRTc

How disappointing.

I'm an RT student in the Southern California area. I can't believe some of these responses. Where are you people working?! From my experience, limited as it may be, I can already tell that RTs are LOVED by the nurses! Not only that, but the patients that are aware of what is going on love their breathing treatments. The only thing that they don't seem to like is Mucomyst but it DOES have the potential to irritate the airways so that's understandable. Oh, and not to mention suctioning but it's necessary! It seems some of you were expecting an easy job and should have spent more time asking yourselves if you really wanted to help people or were just looking for an easy buck. Also, if you think RT work is tiring, try working construction. I'm sure you'd be begging to be back indoors, away from the sun, where it's nice and cool. I'm disappointed by some of these responses. Grow up.
—Guest RT Student


I have been an RRT for one year now. I agree that there are many pros and cons to being a respiratory therapist. First of all school was no joke. I attended Henry Ford community college and had one of the toughest instructors EVER!!!!! Now I work at HFHS and love my job. I enjoy knowing I can make a positive difference in someone's life. I give my patients the care they deserve. I think where you work makes the biggest difference and who your manager or leader is makes an even bigger difference. My manager is more like a leader . He makes you want to do your job to the best of your ability because he is full of confidence and knowledge. He makes you feel that you are great and that your work is appreciated. Scheduling is never a problem with him. I work midnights but that's what I prefer. I can see myself doing this for a very long time. Its only three days a week so you can even pick up another side job, or lots of overtime.
—Guest Guest

Where the hell do you guys work?

Guess a lot of you are from the states, cause the job is nothing like that here. The pay goes up to 80,000$/year and you start at 60,000$. We do arterial lines, intubations, bronchs, trach changes, assist with multiple other procedures, work in ICU with tons of different thoracic patients, oscillate, etc. If the job was stressful to you, you are in the wrong field entirely.
—Guest Guest RRT2

My life as an RRT

My response is more directed at people that are considering become respiratory therapists. The school work isn't bad at all. I actually found it to be rather easy. The terrible part is going through orientation once you find a job. When I graduated I was unable to find full time work so I worked three PRN jobs. I watched as new nurses were oriented with positive happy people that would go out of their way to help their co workers. It was the total opposite. Most of the RT's whom oriented me basically went into one patient's room with me and I was on my own. At each hospital I taught myself how all the equipment worked and where everything was. This profession (no matter where you are in Georgia) seems to be full of people that are only interested in gossiping and pushing their work off to the next shift. The sad thing is all of my classmates and I work at different hospitals but when we take about our jobs they have bad stories just like mine to tell.
—Guest alanaRRT

Clinical Manager

I have worked in the respiratory therapy field for aprx 30 years now, starting out as an on the job trainee, then became CRT, then became RRT, all while working and raising a family of 3 kids. Yes, shifts were long, schedules can be terrible, worked on Christmas even when my kids were small, worked every other weekend, yep, I too dealt with mucus and snot, BUT I made many friends, helped MANY patients, and wouldn't trade my life except maybe with someone who is independently wealthy and doesn't have to work at all. After 25 years at the hospital, I was offered a job at a physician practice where I went to work as a tech, worked 3 years, and then was offered the position of clinic manager when the nurse manager left to go back to the hospital. I still work per diem at the hospital on evenings after work and on weekends just because I love it. Yes, RT is thankless work, we often are treated as the red headed step children, but seeing a patient's relief when I work with them is my JOY!

You guys obviously don't belong here

For those of you that are complaining about how much you're not getting respected, and pay is crap, and no family time, this profession is obviously not for you. Thank you for leaving this profession. If you are looking for respect, do something to deserve it, even if going to other professions. For healthcare, you should be in it because you want to simply help people not just for high pay and respect. Grow up! you guys are adults now, stop complaining.
—Guest henry

Pathetic Profession

I joined a local college for the respiratory program and I hated it. I would have to say it was the worst year of my life. It's all about cleaning smelly thick mucous that makes you want to vomit at the site. At first the activities done may seem fun but soon it gets very boring as all you do is give albuterol to every patient with the slightest breathing difficulty. This is seriously a bad profession and I feel it can be taken over by nurses. They don't really need to be paying a different department just to do some basic crap.
—Guest Kevin

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