Respiratory Therapist (RT)


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Respiratory therapists (RTs) are health professionals who evaluate, treat, and care for people who have breathing problems. Respiratory therapists use oxygen, medicines, and mechanical measures such as chest percussion to help people breathe more effectively.

Most respiratory therapists work under the direct supervision of a doctor. Respiratory therapists treat people of all ages, from premature babies with undeveloped lungs to older adults with respiratory disease. Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals. But some work in nursing homes and doctor's offices.

Respiratory therapists can be certified as RTs after they complete a college-level, accredited RT program. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) offers voluntary certification and registration to graduates of accredited programs. Two credentials are awarded to respiratory therapists who satisfy the requirements: registered respiratory therapist (RRT) and certified respiratory therapist (CRT). Either the CRT or RRT examination is the standard in the states that require licensure.

Current as of: May 1, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine