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.
Tasks commonly carried out by respiratory nurses include, but aren't limited to:
Typical employers and workplace settings include:
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.
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.
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.
Technically, there is no one certification that's specific to respiratory nurses. However, many will earn the Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT) credential which is offered by the National Board of Respiratory Care. It's also common for respiratory nurses to earn critical care certifications which are offered by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
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:
To be eligible to become a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), you'll need to have fulfilled the following requirements:
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.
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.