Respiratory Therapist VS Nursing

  1. 2
    Hello all. I would like to know if any of you knows who has more work load nurse or respiratory therapist. I am going to school for respiratory but at the same time I am thinking about going to nursing school. I know nursing has more options, its an expandable field and also the employment is greater than respiratory but that doesnt really matter to me. What matter to me is the work I do. I want to know the work load and if its more harder than nursing or more stressful.
    Thank you all.
    CNA1991 and KassReyes like this.

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  2. 94 Comments...

  3. 3
    Not sure to tell you the truth. My school offers that too, but I would guess that it would be limited to just that........respiratory system?

    IMHO any healthcare occupations is great!
    CNA1991, Julie19, and *guest* like this.
  4. 0
    Our respiratory therapist has less work- and I sometimes see him just sitting about the department. However, if something screwy happens with a vented patient (involving the vent), or someone needs to be intubated- he can get very busy and difficult intubations are very stressful- in that airway is such a main component of life...

    Some hospitals however, only employ one or two therapists for the whole hospital and I imagine they are busy as beavers all night long drawing abg's and giving treatments.
  5. 2
    Nursing is definately more strenous. Respiratory therapists don't move/lift patients, they don't clean up BM, and their scope of care is very limited. Where a nurse's scope of care covers all aspects of pt care. We can be called on to do the RT, PT, OT, ST and our other nursing duties. Don't get me wrong nurses do not have the expertise of any one of these specialities, but we do have to know the basics of all them. I think the choice shouldn't be which one is more labor intensive, but which one you like better. You might try shadowing both an RT and a nurse to see which one you like better.


    Quote from airis
    Hello all. I would like to know if any of you knows who has more work load nurse or respiratory therapist. I am going to school for respiratory but at the same time I am thinking about going to nursing school. I know nursing has more options, its an expandable field and also the employment is greater than respiratory but that doesnt really matter to me. What matter to me is the work I do. I want to know the work load and if its more harder than nursing or more stressful.
    Thank you all.
    Juwon and PatMac10,RN like this.
  6. 0
    Thank you all for your respond.My sister tells me what RT does and she said that they have more responsibility than nursing because their patients are criticallly ill.And she also said that RT are mostly around very very sick people. But I said to her if you work in the hospital you are always around sick people or diseases. No matter what health field you go to you will always be around sick people. I like RT because RT specialize on respiratory and their main job is anything that only deals with respiratory(i hope so) But I am scared that it would be more work or more responsibility than a nurse. I know nurses work so much and handles different kinds of patients.
    Last edit by airis on Nov 14, '05
  7. 1
    I fought this battle before, as I originally was going to school for RT and switched to nursing. I work at a teaching hospital, and because of that, RTs are limited as to what they can do (no intubations, etc). But, they are very busy doing other things such as ER traumas, codes, breathing treatments, etc. I can see where this would be stressful, however, what job in healthcare isn't?
    I switched to nursing for a number of reasons, the #1 reason for switching was the variety of work that nurses do. You can work in a hospital, office, school, do case management, etc, and there seems to be much more opportunity for advancement. RNs do earn more than RTs at my facility, but it seems like job prospects are good in both fields.

    Good luck in your decision! I hope this helps!
    CNA1991 likes this.
  8. 7
    As a Respiratory Therapist, I'm a little biased, but let me put in my 2 cents on this. I work in a major trauma center with a high level NICU. All of my experiance in at that hospital mostly in the pediatric department.

    I think both are equally difficult. It depends on what you like to do and how you like to do it. There are definately differences between RNs and RTs. In a hospital setting, an RN is assigned X amount of patients in his/her department where as an RT is assigned X amount of treatments in lots of departments. The RT may be in the NICU and have the care of 20 patients, but only 5 are on vents and 4 get treatments, but he/she may also be relied upon to go to all preterm deliveries. If one of those vent babies or one of the non-vent patients gets sicker respiratory wise, the RT will spend lots of time at that bedside just as the RN will.

    The major difference I can see as far as work load is concerned is that the RT is not expected to stay on that floor or at the bedspace of the patients. They see more patients for a shorter amount of time. I enjoy seeing 15-20 patients and spending 15-20 minutes with them. I don't like being confined to a small area of work. In the PICU, I'm responsible for the care of upto 12 patients (that is if I am only assigned the unit) in 2 different areas. However, some of my nursing friends like the total care of the patient. If a patient is needy and whiney, I don't have to deal with it but for just a small period of time.

    If you are looking for a field where you don't have to work, you probably should look outside of the medical field. We all work hard and are tired at the end of a shift. I agree that you should shadow someone from both areas and decide which one suits your needs better.
    Nola009, CNA1991, destined4success, and 4 others like this.
  9. 0
    Quote from Super RT
    As a Respiratory Therapist, I'm a little biased, but let me put in my 2 cents on this. I work in a major trauma center with a high level NICU. All of my experiance in at that hospital mostly in the pediatric department.

    I think both are equally difficult. It depends on what you like to do and how you like to do it. There are definately differences between RNs and RTs. In a hospital setting, an RN is assigned X amount of patients in his/her department where as an RT is assigned X amount of treatments in lots of departments. The RT may be in the NICU and have the care of 20 patients, but only 5 are on vents and 4 get treatments, but he/she may also be relied upon to go to all preterm deliveries. If one of those vent babies or one of the non-vent patients gets sicker respiratory wise, the RT will spend lots of time at that bedside just as the RN will.

    The major difference I can see as far as work load is concerned is that the RT is not expected to stay on that floor or at the bedspace of the patients. They see more patients for a shorter amount of time. I enjoy seeing 15-20 patients and spending 15-20 minutes with them. I don't like being confined to a small area of work. In the PICU, I'm responsible for the care of upto 12 patients (that is if I am only assigned the unit) in 2 different areas. However, some of my nursing friends like the total care of the patient. If a patient is needy and whiney, I don't have to deal with it but for just a small period of time.

    If you are looking for a field where you don't have to work, you probably should look outside of the medical field. We all work hard and are tired at the end of a shift. I agree that you should shadow someone from both areas and decide which one suits your needs better.


    I know that if you work in the medical field you have to work a lot. I am very interested in working in a medical field maybe because my brother is a radiologic technologist, my sister is a nurse, my husband is a nurse, basicly my whole family is in the medical field but most of them are nurses and I just dont want to work as a nurse. I want to explore other medical career not just nursing. My family tells me to go for nursing but I am kinda interested in the RT field but i just dont know what kind of work they go through everyday. If RT does more more more work than nursing then it is not for me. I am actually going for radiologic technology because I love the health field and the technology but there is a 3-4 years waiting list so now I decided to go to school for RT while waiting to get in the school.
    I just want to know more about RT and the job they do.
    Thank you for your respond..
  10. 0
    Can u tell me all if the job for RT is more dangerous than nursing because RT deals with breathing/ people that are dying. I was told that RTs have the most difficult patients. While nurses handles the easiest ones.
  11. 0
    Quote from airis
    Hello all. I would like to know if any of you knows who has more work load nurse or respiratory therapist. I am going to school for respiratory but at the same time I am thinking about going to nursing school. I know nursing has more options, its an expandable field and also the employment is greater than respiratory but that doesnt really matter to me. What matter to me is the work I do. I want to know the work load and if its more harder than nursing or more stressful.
    Thank you all.
    My take on this? Personally as a nurse, I may have at the most 5 patients. I've been told that a respiratory therapist may handle 3 or 4 units at one time...YIKES...that's far more and a nurse would have take care of. I know we DO more as far as nurses....but if you measure up their (RT's) patient load to ours, and then what we do for the patients vs what they do, I think that the stress and load is equal. That's how it is at my hospital anyway...not sure how it is anywhere else.


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