Career Exploration Program


Respiratory Therapist

Patients who are unable to breathe properly on their own usually rely on the help of a ventilator or other devices; these resources are especially valuable to those in critical care.

Depending on the type of illness, patients may also receive breathing treatments through the breathing equipment.

Since a pivotal point in recovery is being taken off the assisted breathing equipment, much importance is placed on this area of a patient’s progress.

A respiratory therapist assists the patient through this process and is on the front line of their recovery.


Respiratory therapists usually have 8-10 patients at a time depending on the level of care required. They visit each patient approximately every 4 hours, check the equipment, administer the physician’s prescribed treatment to the patient, and provide general patient care. Sometimes respiration therapists also assist physicians in bedside tracheotomies.


Since not all of the patients requiring the assistance of a respiratory therapist reside on the same unit, the respiratory therapist interacts with many people from different floors. Communication with RNs, CNAs, physicians, and dieticians are all crucial to provide the best patient treatment possible.


Must graduate from an accredited school of nursing and hold current licensure to practice nursing in Oregon. Required certifications include BLS/ACLS (Basic Life Support/Advanced Cardiac Life Support), TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Classes), and hemodynamic credentialing.