Respiratory therapy vs. nursing

  1. 0
    Hi everyone! I am new here, and I'm desperately in need of your advice and wisdom!

    I am a 23-year-old single mom. I recently lost my job - not a good thing - but hey, now I can go to school full-time, I hope. I am trying to decide between respiratory therapy and nursing. I've actually already enrolled in an RT program that starts in July, but I still have time to withdraw if I choose nursing.

    RT seems promising, and I would be finished in 2 years flat, which with daycare issues, etc. is a factor. However, I'm going to have to take out a substantial loan to cover my daycare expenses, and I'm not sure it's worth it for a 2 year RT degree. There doesn't seem to be as much room for advancement in RT, and the scope of practice definitely seems more limited. Also, I don't think there's as much salary potential, and although the demand is good, I wonder if there's equal job security.

    Then there is the nursing option, which is what I originally wanted to do before I found out about RT. If I do choose nursing, though, I'm left with a million more questions. It will take longer, for one...there is a 2 year waiting list for the local RN program, for example. I was thinking of getting into an LPN program that starts this September, and then starting the 2nd year of an RN program after that (plus then I could work while I went to school). However, the only school that has openings any time soon is a vocational school, and the credits wouldn't transfer to the school that does the RN program. So, while I wouldn't have to wait as long, I'd still have to get a lot of prereqs out of the way before I could start. AAAAAHHHH! Or, I could just go for my BSN to begin with, but it seems like a long time to wait for income when I have a child and need money!

    I guess one of my big questions is - what are the differences and similarities between nursing and respiratory therapy that you are aware of? Advantages and disadvantages of each? Which would you personally recommend? And if I do decide to pursue nursing, which path would you recommend?

    I would appreciate ANY help or advice! HELP!

    Thank you!
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  4. 5 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    Respiratory Therapy is not a bad place to be so don't totally discount it. I've known plenty of RT's who would never want a nurse's job and are thankful that they are RT's. However, the pay, areas that they can work, and advancement are significantly more limited than for RN's.
    I've seen a lot of "older" RT's out there who have been at it a long time, but there are only a limited number of management/supervisory positions or any other advancement for them. I've never been one so I can't speak any more about it other than what I see.
    I've seen many RT's going back to school to become RN's, but I have NEVER seen RN's becoming RT's and I think that says plenty.
    If you really want to be an RT because you think that you would be happier in that job, do it. But if you are going to invest 2 years of your life in classes and clinicals, nursing is the better investment over the long haul.
    Even if you do LPN first and your LPN program won't transfer in very many or any credits at all into your RN program (which I find hard to believe, they should give you some type of advanced standing) the LPN program will still serve as a great foundation to help you through the RN program and you can work as one while you finish RN school.
  6. 0
    I actually went into the RT program but decided it wasn't for me. Clinical concepts and experience was never a problem but I never really felt "at home" while doing it. For me seeing up to 40 patients a shift was just too much. Not that nurses spend much more time with there pt's but with RT we were in and out and on to the next person. I prefer to make the person comfortable and explain what is what-nursing doesn't always offer that option either but at least you get a feel for your patiet a little more. Then there was the pay - to my astonishment in Upstate NY a new RT starts out at almost $6 less than a new RN. Why I don't know...same intensity, same length of schooling and just about same demand for RT here. To sum it up I based my decision on my "gut" feeling to leave, it wasn't where I wanted to be. Depending on where you work here also, RT's are viewed differently...farther North they are "Gods" the all knowing of sat's and tubing, literally-highly valued. Where I am they are just considered "RT's" with no scope of knowledge beyond that...why I don't know, the program was intense and precise. But as soon as someone didn't look well, everyone panicked and would call RT for their advice. I don't know why such extreme views, they are both vital functioning positions.
    Here is my personal reasons for nursing,
    1.)I love the contact with the patient-I am also sure of the specific kind of nursing I am headed toward. Oncology, that is where I feel I can be of the most helpful and supportive.
    2.)Pay- I have a husband, 2 baby boys and a slew of furbies to think of.

    Good luck to you in whatever you decide. Both are exciting places to be.
  7. 0
    Ive been an RT for about eight years, worked for five and took three years off due to burnout working at a long term vent care facility. Let me give it to you from an RT's perspective. Most RT's are jealous of the money that RN's can make, but don't want to wipe bums. Most RN's are jealous that RT's can actually sit down during shifts, but don't want the pay decrease and lack of opportunity for growth- believe me, there is a lack of growth in the field, at best you can become a department head who has to deal with many burned out RT's and Nursing Administrators who don't understand the scope of Respiratory Care. Me personally, I am trying to get into Pedi/Neonate Respiratory Care because I love babies, there is a shortage and there is a lot of respect between the RN's and therapists. I hate working in an environment where the two don't respect each other, and truthfully that depends on the RT staff and how involved they become in patient care. RT is not a bad gig, and you will start out making about $15/hr ( days, a couple more for nights) and if you get into a major hospital you can always use the tuition reimbursement to go back for nursing part time, and you will already have your prereq's done. I know many RT's who have been in the field for over 10 years and are making $22/hr or more. RT's are more in demand in states that have a high elderly/smoking population who at some point will suffer cardiopulmonary disease and will need to be placed on meds/ ventilation. So states in the South, and Midwest and up North pay a little better. I know quite a few RRT/RN's and they are very valuable in the ICU, NICU and Labor & Delivery. Alot of them work fulltime as an RN and pick up Per Diem work as an RT because it's not as strenous as nursing. I would love to be a Maternal Child Nurse so I am weighing my options about nursing schools, I've waited too long and would have to do all my sciences again. Think about what I've said about the tuition reimbursement, whether you go for RT or LPN.
    Quote from NiobiusSwan
    Hi everyone! I am new here, and I'm desperately in need of your advice and wisdom!

    I am a 23-year-old single mom. I recently lost my job - not a good thing - but hey, now I can go to school full-time, I hope. I am trying to decide between respiratory therapy and nursing. I've actually already enrolled in an RT program that starts in July, but I still have time to withdraw if I choose nursing.

    RT seems promising, and I would be finished in 2 years flat, which with daycare issues, etc. is a factor. However, I'm going to have to take out a substantial l...oan to cover my daycare expenses, and I'm not sure it's worth it for a 2 year RT degree. There doesn't seem to be as much room for advancement in RT, and the scope of practice definitely seems more limited. Also, I don't think there's as much salary potential, and although the demand is good, I wonder if there's equal j...ob security.

    Then there is the nursing option, which is what I originally wanted to do before I found out about RT. If I do choose nursing, though, I'm left with a million more questions. It will take longer, for one...there is a 2 year waiting list for the local RN program, for example. I was thinking of getting into an LPN program that starts this September, and then starting the 2nd year of an RN program after that (plus then I could work while I went to school). However, the only school that has openings any time soon is a vocational school, and the c...redits wouldn't transfer to the school that does the RN program. So, while I wouldn't have to wait as long, I'd still have to get a lot of prereqs out of the way before I could start. AAAAAHHHH! Or, I could just go for my BSN to begin with, but it seems like a long time to wait for income when I have a child and need money!

    I guess one of my big questions is - what are the differences and similarities between nursing and respiratory therapy that you are aware of? Advantages and disadvantages of each? Which would you personally recommend? And if I do decide to pursue nursing, which path would you recommend?

    I would appreciate ANY help or advice! HELP!

    Thank you!
  8. 0
    You are in a very enviable position with so many options. Like yourself, I debated RT versus RN for the longest time. Eventually I chose RT and start my program this August. In the end, I like the feeling of autonomy, critical thinking, and working with technology that RT has to offer. Now I was seriously bummed out at the pay difference -- a minimum of $4.00 an hour in Arizona where I live, but after talking/communicating with many RT(s) I just learned to get over it! Some weekly overtime will help put me on a better footing, financially. The two jobs are different in many ways, and frankly, I think less money is worth less of nursing's hassle (i.e.: Total Patient Care). I like the idea of saying many patients during a shift and focusing the majority of patient care "above the waist." Also, some of the best therapists I talked with have indicated that there are many opportunities to work in specialized areas - ICU, PICU, ED - that offer more money and satisfying work than working general floors.

    Some time in the future - if RT proves more limiting - there is a huge option of AD and BSN programs I can consider, with tuition reimbursement covering the cost. So nursing may be the end-path, but RT looks very promising as a faster means to get there without all of the hassle of nursing - faster in that I can finish nursing pre-reqs while studying to be an RT.
  9. 0
    I was a RT over 18 years ago and it was not at all satisfing for me. I settled for Rt and I respect the field I found it to be boring, in our area you mainly gave treatments to people on the floor, you took turns rotating ICU and ER (night shift only 2 in the house) and then you kinda hoped for a code (not nice I know but a fact). Now if I would of had the opportunity to work a NICU or even a hopsital that would have more than 1-3 vents (rarely more than 1) maybe I would have liked it better. I like patient care and being a nurse is what I always wanted to be so that probably added to my disatisfaction. Can you contact your local hospital and see about job shadowing a nurse and an RT person, spend a day with them see what you think after that


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