So if -- WHEN -- the respiratory therapy profession survives the fifth period of respiratory therapy, what will our profession be like. Chances are we will not be the neb jockey's and ventilator button pushers that we are today. Chances are we will have more responsibility, and therefore improved respect and probably better wages.
Am I dreaming here? Chances are that I'm not. I think there is too much pressure on hospital administrators to find ways to cut costs, and surely there's no better way than to quit doing procedures that there's simply no need for. This would include about 80 percent of breathing treatment orders, incentive spirometer orders, electrocardiogram orders, and a variety of other respiratory therapy related orders.
Surely we won't want to cut our way out of jobs, and surely those working for the AARC and NBRC don't want to lose their jobs either. And surely hospital administrators, physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists alike know that respiratory therapists are an integral part of the patient care team. So efforts will be made to keep us. The question that remains is: what will be the scope of practice for the respiratory therapist.
First of all, I think all attempts at deregulating respiratory therapy will fail. What will happen is there will be a gradual shift from the respiratory therapist to the respiratory therapy practitioner. The first step will be offering a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy, and this process has already begun. At the present time therapists may continue their education on a voluntary basis.
However, as is the case for many hospitals, as more therapist obtain their bachelor's degrees, there will be a push to hire only therapists with bachelors. Or, perhaps, the incentive to obtain a bachelor's degree will be that only those with bachelors will be able to decide who gets what and when. RTs with bachelor's will be, in essence, the team leaders, while all other RTs will be the educated button pushers.
Eventually all therapists will have bachelor's degrees, and more respect. The gradual next step will be the gradual assimilation of Respiratory Therapy Practitioners (RTPs). They will be on the same level of respect as nurse practitioners (NPs), physician's assistants (PAs), and the nurse anesthetist. Our profession will finally obtain full the respect it deserves.