Respiratory therapists provide urgent and non-urgent care to patients of all ages and in all settings including acute care hospitals, sub-acute, chronic care, and home settings. Hospital and sub-acute care settings are generally associated with a moderate noise level. Respiratory therapists work with electric, electronic and microprocessor controlled respiratory and critical care equipment and devices as well as compressed medical gases, blood gas analyzer reagents and exposure to aerosolized medications. Patients requiring respiratory care may expose health care workers to airborne and/or bloodborne pathogens. Electric/pneumatic respiratory care equipment exposes workers to moderate noise and vibration, risk of physical injury, chemical exposure, electric shock and/or burns from heating devices.
Successful completion of the Respiratory Care program requires the graduate to have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to safely and competently deliver patient care as a respiratory therapist and provide age-specific patient education. Accordingly, Respiratory Care Program applicants and matriculating students must meet the following technical standards:
Visual / Auditory
The applicant/student must be able to accurately observe patients from a distance or close at hand, correctly read digital, analogue or graphic gauges, scales, monitors, and written instructions, identify equipment and devices and recognize biohazardous fluids. The applicant/student must be able to: hear audio and see visual alarms; hear breath and heart sounds with a stethoscope; hear and respond to public address announcements, telephones, electronic pagers, and verbal instructions; see cardiac/pulmonary waveforms and other data or information displayed on monitoring screens and other devices and displays.
The applicant/student must have both fine and gross motor skill capabilities to perform patient care procedures and handle respiratory care equipment including the capability to simultaneous use and/or appose two hands to firmly grasp, assemble, and/or manipulate. These procedures include, but are not limited to, the following: palpating, auscultating, percussing the chest, administering medications using airway and endotracheal access, obtaining blood samples from veins and arteries, standing for long period of time, climbing stairs and otherwise moving rapidly to the locations of alarm and/or emergency situations, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, turning and lifting patients, moving heavy, bulky equipment, maneuvering in tight places, and assembling, calibrating, testing, operating, monitoring, disassembling, cleaning and disinfecting respiratory care equipment.
The applicant/student must be able to hear, understand, converse in, read and write the English language in order to accurately, effectively and sensitively communicate with patients and family members as well as colleagues, instructors, and all members of the health care team. He/she must also be able to effectively perceive non-verbal communication.
Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Qualitative Abilities
The applicant/student must be able to comprehend, integrate, and apply didactic concepts to the clinical setting. This involves physiologic measurements, mathematical computation, information gathering, interpretation and analysis of data, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving.
Behavioral and Social Attributes
The applicant/student must possess the emotional health necessary to exercise judgment, complete patient care responsibilities, and maintain effective relationships with others in classroom, laboratory and clinical settings. Applicants/students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. He/she must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and function in the uncertainties inherent to the health care setting. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all important personal qualities.