What does a respiratory nurse do?
Respiratory nurses care for patients that suffer from conditions that affect the lungs such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, emphysema, and lung cancer. They also work with patients with acute problems and those required artificial ventilation. They perform patient assessments, monitor vital signs, record observations in medical charts, administer medication, and perform a variety of treatment methods. They discuss treatment plans with patients and families and provide necessary education regarding care. Respiratory nurses work to promote good pulmonary health and prevent lung conditions. Some focus on educating the public on the importance of exercise and healthy breathing. They provide recommendations on lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking.
What kind of training does a respiratory nurse need?
Respiratory nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. Many aspiring respiratory nurses complete elective courses related to respiratory therapy. Many respiratory nurses begin their careers as critical care nurses where they gain experience performing respiratory assessments, administering oxygen, and performing ventilation procedures. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Respiratory nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast on the current advancements in the field.
What are the prospects for a career as a respiratory nurse?
Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). Technological advances and increased need for respiratory care will drive job growth of respiratory nurses.
Job prospects should be great especially for respiratory nurses with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace respiratory nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.
How much do respiratory nurses make?
As of December 2009, the average annual salary for respiratory nurses is $42,000; average annual respiratory nurse salaries vary greatly by location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).
A career as a respiratory nurse is a great choice for people with a strong interest in providing respiratory therapy and related care to a variety of patients with many different health conditions. Respiratory nurses must have a thorough understanding of respiratory care procedures and treatment options. Patience, critical thinking, determination, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Respiratory nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work as part of a team. They must be quick on their feet and have the ability to make effective decisions in emergency situations.