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Saturday, March 1, 2008

New RT opportunities on the horizon?

I'm not sure what the future holds for me, nor my profession as a whole, but sometimes I think it would be nice if there were more opportunities for us RTs.

When I talk to people who are pondering whether they want to become an RT or an RN, I usually find myself encouraging them to become an RN, if they can financially afford to wait the three to five years to get into the RN program.

I mean no disrespect to my profession, but the way it stands right now there are far more opportunities as an RN, and better pay too. With the nursing shortage, as an RN you are almost guaranteed to find a good job with good pay.

Nurses can work at nursing homes, doctor's offices, home care, in the hospital or a variety of other places. For the most part, us RTs are stuck in one department of one hospital, unless you happen to live where there is more than one hospital, of which I do not.

Not only that, but as an RN you can work in one department until you get sick of it, or until you get tired of the politics in that area, or until you get tired of your boss, and then you can transfer to a different department even within the same hospital.

And, respectfully, this is why I hereby would like to learn more about a new bill I read about recently over at Snotjockeys. The law is HR 3968. This is legislature that would supposedly create more opportunities for RTs allowing "(Medicare) of the Social Security Act to cover the services of a qualified respiratory therapist performed under the general supervision of a physician."

What kind of jobs would this create? According to, RTs would be able to provide "smoking cessation and asthma management, home care services and patient education, and other doctor's office and home services... without the physician having to be physically in the office...

"In addition, if medically appropriate, the respiratory therapist could provide a home visit (something they cannot now do under Medicare) as a substitute for a physician who might visit you at home. Respiratory therapists would still be under physician supervision, but if this becomes law, qualified respiratory therapists could provide services as a physician's extender, and not have to have the doctor always on site."

Occupational and Physical Therapists have had this opportunity for several years.

Right now we don't currently do asthma training or smoking cessation management outside the hospital setting because, I believe, medicare will not pay for it. If this law passes, then an RT from our department would be able to provide these much needed services to the community.

And if I got tired of my current job, I'd be able to work for a doctor's office. I'm sure the pay there wouldn't be as good, but at least it would be an opportunity.

Plus there would be the opportunity of working as a home care RT. There are many patient's who have difficulty getting out of their homes, and having an RT do a pulmonary assessment on behalf of the doctor would not only benefit the patient, but the doctor too.

Right now there are very few opportunities for RTs, and, quite frankly, according to President of the AARC Tony Rodriguez it's high time for "members of our profession to shake off the bonds of disouragement, apathy and resigned attitude and unite behind the legislative efforts to get H.R. 3968 passed into law."

Many RTs and RT organizations have gone on record in support of this bill, as one wrote, "passage of the bill would serve as confirmation of the integral role RTs now play in today's health care system and potentially create many new opportunities for therapists in the future.

However, we at the RT cave cannot say we support this bill yet, considering we know so little about it. But we will continue to look into it and report our findings.

You can follow the progress of the bill through this link.

To read the actual bill, click here.

Note: After studying this bill further, I see that one has to have a bachelor's degree. I wonder how many RTs have a bachelors degree. No one I know does. I don't even think RT schools in this area offer that option.


Anonymous said...
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Breathingthroughschool said...

Can you be an anesthesia assistant in the States? In Canada, we can take a few more courses to be an anesthesia assistant. We can also take courses to teach asthma education and COPD education to work in the community.

Rick Frea said...

We do not have either one of those options here in the states, at least as far as I know.

Rick Frea said...

I wish we did.

just respiratory said...

This kind of sounds like a shitty thing to say, but I'm no longer looking forward to graduation. I put the blame solely on myself. I was looking for something in the medical field where I could do some patient assessment and earn decent money. Nursing school, as you said, takes a while to get into. So, naturally, I went towards respiratory care. I had all the prereqs and all but one of the gen. ed. courses for an AAS.

I love learning about this stuff. We've been covering hemodynamics as of late, and it's been fun. What I've seen at clinicals, however, is little to be desired.

It sucks when you see a ten-year therapist doing the same things as a first year therapist. It really sucks when you see a first year nurse given vent protocol over an experienced therapist.

Call me young and jaded, but I really think it is hopeless. I just don't think the profession has it in us to go toe-to-toe with the beast (nursing).

To be continued...

Breathingthroughschool said...

I had no idea you didn't have those options in the States. I know we can also go into being a perfusionist as well (or at least so I hear) I had no idea how limited it was for RT's in the US. Who knows maybe that is how I will find it when I graduate, but from speaking to people in the field there are lots of opportunities to move around within the career. Hey, you could always come to Canada ;)