The respiratory system is composed of the trachea, bronchi, the lungs, and is one of the most important systems in the human body. Dysfunction of the respiratory system can make it difficult to breathe and can result in many other problems. Satisfactory medical treatment for respiratory issues is essential, as these problems can result in complications that can cause fatalities. Respiratory nurses, also sometimes referred to as pulmonary care nurses are nursing professionals who care for patients who suffer from both chronic and acute issues related to the respiratory system. Examples of illnesses that respiratory nurses will commonly encounter include bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, lung cancer, pneumonia, and emphysema.
What Are Some Respiratory Nurse Duties?
Tasks commonly carried out by respiratory nurses include, but aren't limited to:
Plan, implement and assess treatment plans for patients with respiratory illnesses
Conduct patient interviews
Monitor patients' progress
Carry out diagnostic testing procedures
Assist and collaborate with other healthcare professionals (i.e. physicians)
Manage and administer medications
Educate patients and their families on medications as well as various breathing treatments
Administer different treatments including oxygen therapy
Advise patients on various lifestyle changes that can alleviate symptoms
Educate patients on how to prevent respiratory illnesses
Perform emergency procedures on individuals who have had myocardial infarctions and acute breathing issues
Where Do Respiratory Nurses Work?
Typical employers and workplace settings include:
Assisted living facilities
Military or governmental facilities
Home healthcare agencies
Private doctors' offices
Long-term care facilities
How to Become a Respiratory Nurse
Respiratory nurses should have extensive knowledge and a strong understanding of the inner workings of the respiratory system. They should also enjoy forming relationships with patients while working with them over a long period of time. Nurses with these characteristics will do well in the role of a respiratory nurse.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
Becoming a respiratory nurse means first becoming a registered nurse. You'll first need to earn your ADN or BSN degree to achieve this. If possible, it would be smart to take a number of courses in respiratory health while completing your degree. Upon earning your degree and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, you will gain RN licensure. In some cases, prospective respiratory nurses will go to complete a master's degree where they can study the pulmonary and respiratory system more extensively, but it's not necessarily required.
Do Respiratory Nurses Need an RN Degree?
Respiratory nurses must hold active and unencumbered RN licenses and have some clinical experience in the field in order to obtain the various specialty certifications that fall under the category of a ‘respiratory nurse'. An ADN or BSN degree is necessary for this role.
To be eligible to sit for the exam to become a Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT) you will need to be at least 18 years old and have fulfilled ONE of the following requirements:
Successfully completed 62 semester credits from an accredited college or university with courses in biology, chemistry and mathematics and six months of clinical experience in the field of pulmonary function technology
Possess an associate degree from a respiratory care education program which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Be a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
To be eligible to become a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), you'll need to have fulfilled the following requirements:
Current, active, and unencumbered RN license
Have 1,750 hours of direct are experience in a critical care nursing setting within the last two years OR
Have practiced as an RN for at least five years with a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience in a critical care nursing setting
Respiratory Nurses Jobs, Salary & Employment
Due to technological advances and the aging baby boomer generation, respiratory nursing is an expanding field that's likely to have many exciting advancements and career opportunities for interested RNs for years to come.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Excellent bedside manner, well-developed interpersonal skills, knowledge of different respiratory therapy techniques like assisted ventilation, suctioning, and oxygen therapy, strong assessment abilities, ability to work in a team, extensive knowledge of respiratory illnesses like COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, TB, and respiratory failure
Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment rates for RNs will grow by 16% between 2014 and 2024. Due to aging population, new advances in technology, and because respiratory problems are some of the most commonly encountered medical problems, the field of respiratory nursing should grow at a faster or similar rate to the one mentioned above
What Is the Average Salary of a Respiratory Nurse?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average median annual salary of a respiratory nurse is approximately $71,350. The amount of money a respiratory nurse makes will depend on factors like education level, the location of their job, the credentials and certifications they have, amount of clinical experience, and their employer. Similar factors will also contribute to the employee benefits packages that respiratory nurses receive. However, most who are employed full time can count on benefits which include the likes of medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug insurance coverage, as well as some paid time off annually.