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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

3 types of respiratory therapists

After 16 years of doing this I've decided there are three types of respiratory therapists. 

1.  Neb Jockeys
2.  Respiratory Therapists
3.  Yearning

A neb jockey is a person who is just a task doers:
  • Does what the nurse or doctor says just to keep the peace
  • Uses politics to smile and keep the patient happy
  • Travels room to room in the hospital setting doing tasks, such as EKGs and nebulizer treatments. 
  • Once he's finished he travels back to the RT cave and continues reading his novel or blogging, blogging on the Internet, or some other similar activity
  • He finds it easier just to do the treatment than to challenge himself or the doctor or nurse
  • They might recommend no treatment be given and be called a half hour later to do one anyway
  • They are treated as ancillary staff
A respiratory therapists is what we read about at They are actual therapists and not just doers
  • They work with doctors and nurses in making decisions to benefit the patient. 
  • Diagnose and make treatment decisions for breathing disorders
  • Interview and exam patients and relay our opinions to physicians and nurses
  • Analyze lung sounds and ABGs and EKGs and make recommendations to the benefit of the patient
  • Managing ventilators and other airway equipment
  • Educating patients and families about lung disease\
  • Their recommendations are respected
  • They are treated as professionals
I find that most respiratory therapists are treated as neb jockey respiratory therapists as opposed to the ideal respiratory therapist respiratory therapist (if you get my drift).

Contrary to popular belief, here at the Respiratory Cave we're neb jockeys.  I'd like to say it's not by our personal choice nor due to educational restraints on our part, yet part of me wants to say it is our fault.  Think about it:  it's easier to just do the treatment than to think; it's easier to just do it and be done than to assess, talk to the doctor, fill out paper work, and reassess after the treatment and then reassess again.  Can you see?  It's easier to just do it.

Plus there are those among us who are afraid if we move into the future it would result in protocols (more work and more thinking) and this might result in fewer treatments (the fear of layoffs).  Yet by the evidence of those who currently have protocols, that rarely ever happens.  The work will remain there.

There are a few RTs like myself who are neb jockeys respiratory therapists who try to be respiratory therapist respiratory therapist.  And this brings me to the 3rd type of respiratory therapist:

Yearning Respiratory Therapists:  These are neb jockeys not by choice but because their bosses and coworkers don't want to make waves.  They are neb jockeys who pretend to be respiratory therapists.  They tend to be among your more frustrated bunch because they expected the profession to be as the AART described, yet realize at some point the ideal world is, well, not so ideal after all.  The picture painted by the AARC is not the real world.  They are neb jockeys not by choice but because their department made them that way.  When they are young and fresh they try to change things, and when they fail (90 percent do fail -- at change I mean), they give up and decide it's easier to just do the treatment.  Then they reserve themselves to silly blogs and making RT humor .

So you have your three types of RTs:
  1. Respiratory Therapist Respiratory Therapists (ideal)
  2. Neb Jockey Respiratory Therapist (real)
  3. Yearning Respiratory Therapist (dreamers of the idea)
What kind of RT are you?  Are you that way by choice, or because your department has made you that way?  Are you a fighter for change, or have you given up? 

Also read:  The six different types of respiratory therapists

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