My humble answer: I arrive at work, punch in, grab a cup of coffee, and the person I'm relieving hands me the beeper. My first order of business is to pray the beeper doesn't go off for at least an hour, yet I'm often disappointed. So the beeper -- what we call the hot potato -- often dictates the course of our day. Some pages can be prioritized, yet others are STAT. Prioritizing is perhaps the greatest challenge of this job.
RTs are responsible for anything to do with the airway. Most of what we do is scheduled (see below), yet we are often called whenever the nurse is worried about a patient, breathing equipment, oxygen, suction, and for new patients -- particularly new patients admitted to ER. One RT is usually responsible for the ER and is given fewer scheduled procedures. He must respond to ER pages in a timely manner.
>I work in a small town hospital. The majority of my patients are:
COPD We treat them with oxygen and bronchodilators (like Albuterol). Since they retain secretions they're at high risk for pneumonia. End Stage often causes heart failure (CHF), so treating them can often be a balancing act. They're usually scheduled for every 4-6 hours depending on how short of breath they are. In the ER they often demand close watch, continuous Albuterol, and sometimes more invasive intervention (such as BiPAP or intubation).