4 Most Needed Respiratory Therapist Positions
Travel respiratory therapists are valued members of the medical team, going wherever they're needed and helping patients breathe a little easier. Although the demand is steady for all types of respiratory therapists, the demand is greater in some areas than others. Keep reading to learn more about the four most needed respiratory therapist positions in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that medical facilities rely on travel respiratory therapists to mobilize any time there's a national or global crisis. Because COVID-19 causes severe respiratory complications, hospitals in some of the hardest-hit areas are asking respiratory therapists to step in and help with increased patient loads in ICUs and infectious disease units. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also hires travel RTs to serve on emergency care task forces, which are typically deployed in the wake of a natural disaster or critical incident.
Working as a crisis-response RT is both personally and financially rewarding, with some programs offering crisis pay, paid lodging, and other perks to make the position more attractive. You'll also get the satisfaction of using your skills to help people who need a little extra support as they work to overcome crisis-related challenges.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 4.5 million people received some type of home health care in 2015, indicating increased demand for in-home services. Additionally, the senior population is growing steadily, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that all remaining baby boomers will be 65 and older by 2030. Shifting demographics have placed a greater burden on hospitals and other medical facilities, prompting healthcare providers to explore better ways of providing care.
Delivering respiratory therapy services at home has many benefits for patients and their families. Romagnoli et al. report that in-home care reduces readmission rates, improves outcomes and decreases the cost of delivering care. Furthermore, home care gives patients additional support, which may reduce the risk of medication errors and serious injuries. If you're a registered respiratory therapist looking for a new challenge, consider accepting a home-health position instead of a hospital-based assignment.
The World Health Organization estimates that 15 million babies are born before completing 37 weeks of gestation, which is known as preterm birth. Many of these babies spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit before they're released from the hospital, making the NICU RT one of the most in-demand respiratory therapist positions. NICU respiratory therapists have a wide range of duties, from administering nitric oxide and surfactants to attending high-risk deliveries and taking quick action if the neonate needs extra support.
Working in the NICU has many benefits, but RTs frequently mention autonomy as one of the main reasons they enjoy specializing in this type of respiratory care. Michelle Donahoo, RRT-NPS, explains that working with neonates is exciting because she's able to offer support immediately after delivery, go on transports and perform endotracheal intubations. Donahoo also states that it's rewarding for respiratory therapists to see newborn babies "rapidly improve" with their assistance.
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services changed some of its policies regarding the provision of respiratory therapy and physical therapy in long-term care facilities. Thanks to the change, respiratory therapy is now listed as a mandated rehabilitative service, which means residents of long-term care facilities must receive respiratory therapy services if their care plans contain a documented need for those services.
CMS gives long-term care facilities some leeway in how the services are provided; for example, respiratory therapy can be provided by a staff RT or a respiratory therapist from an outside agency. Due to the increased demand for RT services in long-term care facilities, this is one of the most in-demand respiratory therapist positions for travel RTs.
Respiratory therapy is a rewarding career, regardless of the setting you choose. If you're interested in using your skills to provide much-needed support to patients with a variety of cardiopulmonary conditions, consider accepting a travel assignment in one of these high-demand areas.