Who are Respiratory Therapists?

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In this article, we will determine exactly who are respiratory therapists and how to become respiratory therapists. Moreover, we will focus on career opportunities for respiratory therapists. 

Life as a Respiratory Therapist is not easy. It requires a special type of person who can work not only as a respiratory therapist but also in the medical field in general with patience, kindheartedness, sympathy and they also need certain crucial skills to work more efficiently. But the question is, “who are respiratory therapists?”, and “how to become a respiratory therapist?”.

Respiratory therapy is best described as an assessment, evaluation, treatment of patients with acute or chronic dysfunction and deteriorated cardiopulmonary system.

In that era, respiratory therapists had a variety of responsibilities related to patient care and served as crucial members of the health care system.

Respiratory therapists, having a broad knowledge of the pathophysiology of cardiopulmonary systems and their complex procedures, accurately diagnose and treat patients. 

Who are Respiratory Therapists?

Who are respiratory therapists? Respiratory therapists are certified professionals who specialize in health care of the lungs. RTS have advanced knowledge with high-tech appliances or equipment, especially Mechanical ventilators.

They practice in numerous facilities including (emergency room ER, maternity wards, and therapy). RTS, help to improve outcomes or better results for patients who are suffering from asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and any lung injury). They also assess breathing exercises. 

You now know who are respiratory therapists, it’s time to learn how to become a respiratory therapist.

How to become a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory therapists are highly honored and respected everywhere since they are lifesavers. But how to become a respiratory therapist? Let’s find out!

Eligibility criteria for respiratory therapists in Pakistan

Every university has its own criteria to take admission to any program. The basic eligibility criteria to take admission for bachelor in Respiratory Therapist (BS-RT) program is:

  • Candidates should pass a level of XII Or higher secondary/certified examination with science subjects (chemistry, physics, and biology).
  • Students also require an age limit criteria which is completing 17 years of age at any time of admission.
  • Students must have passed higher secondary school or FSC by obtaining at least 60% marks with verification by the inter-board committee of the chairman (IBCC), equivalent to higher secondary school certificate (HSCC) level of Pakistan.
  • If a student obtains less than 50% marks in the entry test, they may not be considered eligible to enroll in the BS-RT program.

Eligibility Criteria for RTs in abroad

Eligibility criteria for RTs in countries, other than Pakistan, is based on two different ways:

1. Examination pathway

Criteria for examination pathway admission in RT through UPESEAT (up to 80% of seats) is:

  • Candidates must acquire 60% marks at the senior secondary level ( X and XII).
  • Candidates must acquire 69% aggregate in science-based subjects at the secondary level.
  1. Non-Examination pathway

For the Non-Examination pathway of admission (through Board Merit/JEE mains score)

i) For Board Merit: Candidates must acquire 80% marks at the higher secondary level, and a minimum of 805 aggregates in science subjects ( Biology, physics, chemistry).

ii) For JEE mains Merit: Candidates must acquire 60% marks at higher secondary level in XI and XII with 60% aggregate.

General structure of Respiratory Therapist and course subjects:

The general structure of BS-RT is a 4-years program designed into three volumes:


  1. Semester-1
  2. Semester-2
  3. Semester-3
  4. Semester-4
  5. Semester-5
  6. Semester-6
  7. Semester-7
  8. Semester-8


  • Clinical practicum/ Clinical Rotation skills


  •  Viva

List of Course titles with course code and credit hours

First-year of Respiratory Therapist Degree

Medical terminology (MEDTR)Microbiology and infection control (MICRO) 
English (ENG)Biochemistry (BIO) 
Sociology basic (SOC)Psychology Basic (PSYC) 
Anatomy (ANAT) Computer basic skills (CS) 
Islamiat (ISLAM)Introduction to critical care-I (ICC/MTRCC)
Physiology (PHYS) Critical care medical terminology (MT/ MTRCC) 

Pakistan studies (PAK-STD) 

Second-year of Respiratory Therapist Degree

Introduction to critical care-II (ICC/MTRCC)Physical principle and technique (MTRCC) 
Clinical practicumInvasive and non-invasive mechanical ventilator-I (MV) 
Diagnostic and critical care-I (DCC/MTRCC)Applied cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology-II (ACPP/MTRCC)
Applied cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology-I (ACPP/MTRCC)Diagnostic and critical care-II (DCC) 
Cardiopulmonary physiology-I (CPP/MTRCC)
Procedure and Therapeutic intervention-I (MTRCC) 
Pharmacology (PHARM) Clinical practicum 

Third-year of Respiratory Therapist Degree

Research method and principal-I (RMP) 
Diagnostic and microbiology (DM) 
Procedure and Therapeutic intervention-II (MTRCC) Drug therapy in critical care (MTRCC) 
Invasive and mechanical ventilator-II (MV) Research and methodology-II (RMP) 
Clinical practicum Clinical practicum 
Clinical rotation 

Fourth-year of Respiratory Therapist Degree

Biostatics (BIOSTAT) 
Health care management (HCM) 
Clinical diagnosis (CD) Research article (RA) 
Invasive and non-invasive mechanical ventilator-III (MV) Clinical practicum 
Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation (MTRCC) 
Clinical practicum 

Pass Credentialing Examination

After completion of the respiratory therapist program and to gain access to the personnel graduate must have challenged two national exams administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC). In the first attempting test, the Therapist Multiple Choice Exam (TMC) depends on low or high scores of passing.

  • If you have low marks or scores, grant graduate certified respiratory therapist (CRT) national credential and applicant apply for CRT state license.
  • If you score high marks the qualified student will challenge clinical simulation exams (CCE) which guide the national credential of registered respiratory therapists (RRT). 

Respiratory Therapist Degree

The respiratory therapist program divided educational programs into three major types of degrees:

  1. Associate of Science (AS) in Respiratory Therapy
  2. Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Respiratory Therapy
  3. Bachelors of Science ( BSc) in Respiratory Therapy

Universities offering BS-RT in Pakistan

The universities/colleges which offer the Respiratory Therapist program are not in large numbers because this program is recently introduced in Pakistan. The demand for RT is high in number but the institute of RTs is not in a wide range right now.

Universities that offer this program are:

  1. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad
  2. Dow University Of Health Sciences, Karachi
  3. Isra University, Islamabad
  4. Sindh Institute Of Urology And Transplantation, Karachi
  5. Gulab Devi Postgraduate Medical Institute, Lahore
  6. Shifa Tameer.e.Millat University, Islamabad

Universities offering BS-RT in abroad

The demand of Respiratory therapists is high abroad and the universities or colleges which offer this program are high in number, but a few top universities for this program are listed below:

  1. Independence University, US
  2. Northern University, USA
  3. University Of South Wales, UK
  4. Manipal University, India
  5. The University of Kansas, USA
  6. Perm Medical University, Russia
  7. Ferris State University, US
  8. University Of New Brunswick, Canada

With having the knowledge of who are respiratory therapists and how to become respiratory therapists, we now need to see what do RTs actually do.

What does a respiratory therapist do? 

Respiratory therapists treat patients of all ages (newborn, infant, adult, and aged) to solve their problems regarding lungs. They care for those patients who are suffering from respiratory difficulties. The respiratory therapist plays the following role:

  • RTs interview, examine, and assess patients with breathing patterns of cardiopulmonary diseases.
  • RTs consult with doctors to plan patient treatment strategies.
  • RTs perform a variety of tests to assess or measure the capacity of lungs such as Spirometer, pulmonary function test. 
  • They also use various methods to treat patients such as chest physiotherapy, oxygen therapy, aerosol medication, inhalant, operating mechanical ventilator, environmental control system, and so on. 
  • The most critical work for RTs is to operate mechanical ventilators. They connect patients, who can’t breathe by his/her own self, to the ventilator for delivering oxygen to the lungs.
  • They also transfer or relay blood analysis results to physicians.
  • RTs monitor the patients continuously and record the progress of patients for further treatment.
  • RTs also superintend respiratory technicians during the assessment of the exhaustion of patients.
  • They can also teach medical staff or patients.
  • Respiratory therapists also work in-home care and teach or train patients and patient’s family members to give life support systems at home. 
  • Respiratory therapists are involved in counseling depart to provide counseling to people on how to stop smoking or how to get rid of occupational diseases, problems of sleep apnea, etc. 
  • Respiratory therapists document patient’s records by charting and protecting hospital progress to keep the information confidential.
  • RTS supervise, train, and utilize the students, technicians, and nurses.

Respiratory therapist’s skills and proficiency

RTS should have the skill and qualifications to manage all problems and do their job effectively and efficiently. The skills and competencies of RTs are: 

  1. Interpersonal/social skills: For working one-on-one with patients and dealing or counseling with their family is not an easy task. It must need excellent interpersonal skills. Respiratory therapists have these skills which help to ease the treatment. It also protects any miscommunication between RTs or any health care provider.
  2. Detail-oriented: Respiratory therapists pay their overall attention and concern to all smallest details to ensure that the patient got correct treatment along with satisfying their families.
  3. Problem-solving skills: RTs are well trained and must be capable of commending and adventuring the correct treatment which is based on the assessment of patients. They can also solve problems and remove the distance between the patient and the doctor. 
  4. Compassion: Respiratory therapists are also able to give emotional support to patients undergoing treatment. It’s necessary to perform duty well. RTs have patience because they spend a long time dealing with a single patient with sympathy. For being professional, not always skills matter, but a kind heart and sympathy in nature is necessary to give comfort to patients.
  5. Science and math skills: Respiratory therapists should know anatomy, physiology, Pathophysiology, and other sciences. They are also capable of calculating the right dosage of medicine.

Now with the actual knowledge of who are respiratory therapists and how to become a respiratory therapists, we need to know the career opportunities for respiratory therapists. Let’s have a look!

Career opportunities for respiratory therapists

What are the career opportunities for respiratory therapists? As we all know, respiratory therapists are responsible or accountable for assisting doctors and nurses in all facets of cardiopulmonary diseases, conditions, and treatment.

A career profile or job description for a respiratory therapist is of many different types. Few career opportunities for respiratory therapists after completion of BS-RT are:  

In Pakistan, the demand for respiratory therapists has never been so high but abroad demands respiratory therapists in great or vital numbers, and the stability of the job is excellent. After continuous growth in technology, it’s ensured the field will never get flopped or boring.

Choosing a job or occupation is the first step, a student must do after enrolling in any field. For respiratory therapists, they consider for their future and their career is that they must have personnel character, license, and certification. A few better career opportunities are: 

i) As an instructor:

Being an instructor, lecturer, or professor is an ideal or perfect option to succeed in your career. After completing your bachelor’s in a respiratory therapist (BS-RT) the job opportunity as an instructor is best in both clinical as well as a motivator because they mold the minds of the next generation of therapists. Teaching RTs programs helps students to start a career better and also helps you to increase your knowledge.

ii) Registered sleep center: 

The program of BS-RT will allow you to run your career as a registered sleep center Technologist (RST). They train you to conduct sleep apnea studies and also perform physiological monitoring, clinical assessment, and management of this order. 

iii) Sleep disorder specialty:  

After completion of the respiratory therapist program, you may pursue your career as a sleep disorder specialist. National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) provides you with exam certification for this specialization. This exam, for continuing your career in this specialization, also determines the level of your knowledge and skills for respiratory therapist spots and highlights competency for treating disorders of sleep apnea. 

iv) Adult critical care specialty: 

One of the major areas of career profile opportunity is an adult critical care specialist (ACCS). After your BS-RT program, you are eligible to build your career in this field and you assist patients with respiratory critical care disorders and their procedures. 

v) Work in Neonatal: 

If your interest is in working with Peds (children) and you have a BS-RT degree, you should go to your career in pediatric departments. But if you want more skills you can pursue certification as a pediatric specialist because after getting certified you’ll be more able or trained to handle all critical issues. 

vi) Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT): 

With an increase in smoking and occupational diseases, patients’ care from hospitals to their homes has a greater demand for diagnostic pulmonary function (PF)  study. It’s the best option for RTs of working within the hospitals, outside the hospital, or in doctor offices. Technologists have training in respiratory therapy and they are also certified as pulmonary function technologists.

vii) Clinical Application Therapist:

It is the best option to pursue a career in your medical field. After completion of the BS-RT program, you may also work as a clinical application therapist. In this job profile, you are responsible for counseling regarding psychological issues.

viii) Consultant Pulmonologist: 

After completion of your degree, this is the best career option to become a consultant because you are an expert in your specialization, and the chances of your success increase after choosing this career.

Where Respiratory Therapists earn more money?

Respiratory and critical areas are very dynamic fields. The demand for RTs specialists is based on demographic, environmental hazards (including quartz, fracking, occupational diseases, and smoking) related to climatic changes and it may result in greater needs of RTs to keep patients safe.

If you are a respiratory therapist and start a career, the good news is that you are in a highly demanded field to work in. There are numerous opportunities to find work in many countries.

From 2010 to yet the job outlook for RTs employment is much faster than the average range of all occupations. According to the national medical salary of RTs.

Highest paying State

  • California- $ 78,820
  • Newyork- $ 71,000
  • Alaska-$ 7,940
  • Nevada-$ 172,630

Lowest paying state

  • Mississippi- $ 48,390
  • Arkansas- $49,2280
  • West Virginia- $49,530

RTs salary in Pakistan

Respiratory Therapists in Pakistan earn from PKR.80,000 (basic) to PKR. 288,000 (higher)

The salary is based on your expertise, knowledge, skills, and also the location of hospitals. Studying a respiratory care program not only earns handsome salaries, but it is also a mark of honor and respect in the healthcare field.

Why I’m thankful to be a Respiratory Therapist?

Being a health care provider is a great honor for every medical student and they love their profession by heart and soul. Every profession has its value or worth but if you are a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, radiologist whatever in the medical field you are, people respect you as a health care provider because you are the source to safe human life. Being an RT also has its destination and honorable job to do. 

  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory therapist because I have all opportunities to help people and save their lives.
  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory Therapist because this profession gave me advanced knowledge, expertise, and integrity which allows me to make better improvements in the field of critical care, research, and so on.
  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory Therapist because it gives me the ability to become a major part of the medical world.
  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory therapist because I learned uncountable skills to save humans and humanity and will be able to assist or evaluate the most fragile patients in NICUs, ER, PFTs, Education, etc.
  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory Therapist because it made me an integral part of multidisciplinary clinics to enhance and prolong the quality of life.
  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory Therapist educator or instructor because I am effortlessly conveying the best knowledge in an easy manner and mold the lives of younger aspiring RTs students.
  • I am thankful to be a Respiratory Therapist because I love what I do to save human life and I also love to see my patients smile after the alleviation of respiratory distress or problem. Because of this, I am rewarding the best career to save precious human lives. I am ever so grateful to be a respiratory therapist, with great honor, dedication, and a caring specialized profession with great respect.