Respiratory Therapy vs. Nursing

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    Im really interested in exploring Nursing after a semi-successful (passing with B's) but disappointing experience in Nursing school, and was wondering if there was anyone out there who had done both Respiratory Therapy and Nursing School and was also wondering which is harder?

    I just am having an awful experience in my RN program, and dont feel like im learning anything except how to be a good guesser on exams and wipe ______ (no offense) and how to be nasty, sadistic and mean like my instructors.

    I guess I want a field where I feel like I can make a major difference (not that nursing doesnt) ..... since Respiratory's main focus is on the Airway and Breathing, .... after doing much research I feel like this could be my thing..... I am looking for input from people who already have some minimal experience.

    Ive heard my brother who is an RT say, RT is the easier of the 2 (at least in the classroom) because the primary concern is the lungs and to an extent the heart and anything other body system that may pertain to pulmonary function, he also didnt have the B.S off the wall questions and felt like he learned more in RT school than RN school, but also had more in terms of written exams and praticals.. ......however, what makes nursing so hard is RN's have to know everything and anything,....they are truely on the front lines, and are responsible for everything from cardiac to respiratory to psychosocial and elimination....."

    Anyways, just wondering... RT school is hard no secret but for an over/under, how hard is the schooling compared to nursing
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    never been an RT but know many and I would not say their job is easy. But it is different and may be just what you are looking for. Try to find an RT to interview.
    Pixiesmom likes this.
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    Quote from rgodfrey
    Im really interested in exploring Nursing after a semi-successful (passing with B's) but disappointing experience in Nursing school, and was wondering if there was anyone out there who had done both Respiratory Therapy and Nursing School and was also wondering which is harder?

    I just am having an awful experience in my RN program, and dont feel like im learning anything except how to be a good guesser on exams and wipe ______ (no offense) and how to be nasty, sadistic and mean like my instructors.

    I guess I want a field where I feel like I can make a major difference (not that nursing doesnt) ..... since Respiratory's main focus is on the Airway and Breathing, .... after doing much research I feel like this could be my thing..... I am looking for input from people who already have some minimal experience.

    Ive heard my brother who is an RT say, RT is the easier of the 2 (at least in the classroom) because the primary concern is the lungs and to an extent the heart and anything other body system that may pertain to pulmonary function, he also didnt have the B.S off the wall questions and felt like he learned more in RT school than RN school, but also had more in terms of written exams and praticals.. ......however, what makes nursing so hard is RN's have to know everything and anything,....they are truely on the front lines, and are responsible for everything from cardiac to respiratory to psychosocial and elimination....."

    Anyways, just wondering... RT school is hard no secret but for an over/under, how hard is the schooling compared to nursing
    I'm an RT, and currently in Nursing school. Your brother is right in a sense, RT school is easier than RN school, but it depends on how you look at it. RN school is difficult for me and I imagine others too because of the multiple body systems to learn the overload of memorization you have to do, the multifaceted approach to nursing, the myriad of procedures to learn, etc... RT schools different in that the dedicated learning of just a couple of systems and the same length of an ASN program allows the instructors to delve DEEPLY into those systems incorporating a lot of physiology, math, and physics concepts. Not that Nursing doesn't, but it just,to me, seemed to be more involved in RT school. I have chosen Nursing, because, while the jobs aren't bountiful, there seems to be more options than for RT's.
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    RT school (and I have NOT been to one) teaches you a lot about one (important) body system. RN school teaches you a little about all the body systems. Do you work better knowing a lot about one thing (RT) or a little about everything (RN)?

    Other considerations:
    1. RN school really is just the beginning. As you practice you continue to learn for a LONG time. You can get as specialized or stay as generalized as you wish.
    2. RNs have more opportunities for jobs, for a variety of practice areas (RTs are pretty much just in hospitals - and sleep centers, but RNs can do clinic, home care, insurance, school, etc). RNs also have more opportunities for advanced education (BSN, MSN) and promotions later.
    3. I know three RNs that used to be RTs. I don't know any RTs that used to be RNs.

    I mean no disrespect to RTs. I work with some that are WONDERFUL - I'd trust them to run a code on my family member, but I do think RN is a more flexible career.
    not.done.yet likes this.
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    Quote from AnonRNC
    RT school (and I have NOT been to one) teaches you a lot about one (important) body system. RN school teaches you a little about all the body systems. Do you work better knowing a lot about one thing (RT) or a little about everything (RN)?

    Other considerations:
    1. RN school really is just the beginning. As you practice you continue to learn for a LONG time. You can get as specialized or stay as generalized as you wish.
    2. RNs have more opportunities for jobs, for a variety of practice areas (RTs are pretty much just in hospitals - and sleep centers, but RNs can do clinic, home care, insurance, school, etc). RNs also have more opportunities for advanced education (BSN, MSN) and promotions later.
    3. I know three RNs that used to be RTs. I don't know any RTs that used to be RNs.

    I mean no disrespect to RTs. I work with some that are WONDERFUL - I'd trust them to run a code on my family member, but I do think RN is a more flexible career.
    I totally agree with you.
    AnonRNC likes this.
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    I think respiratory therapist school is easier compared to nursing. But I wouldnt go into respiratory therapy becaue of your grades. I know this one nurse who said "I passed nursing by the skin of my teeth" and she is one of the best nurses that I know of. Knowledge is just one component of nursing and there are many other qualities that are needed to make a good nurse.
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    School is only a small part of your future. I wouldn't make the decision to be a RN or a RT based on what the schooling is like -- because once school is over, you're stuck actually working in your chosen profession.

    I work in a large academic medical center where RTs are respected and have a pretty wide scope of practice. A lot of the RTs that I talk with can't imagine becoming a nurse because they can't imagine staying within the confines of one unit or "only" having the same handful of patients. On the other hand, it seems like most of our good RTs are all in school for something else. Lack of vertical movement within the profession and the accompanying severe wage compression are the usual complaints.
    not.done.yet and AnonRNC like this.
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    Go with respiratory.
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    To be fair, there are advancement oppurtunities in Respiratory therapy, but nowhere near as much as Nursing....which is the major advancement.... Radiologic Technologists have the same issues, but maybe worse. But Nursing has these oppurtunities because , Nursing is such a massive profession, there are a lot of nurses out there but so few RT's, therefore a lot of Nursing jobs, however, for all those oppurtunities in Nursing there are also a lot of qualified applicants for those same oppurtunities, and that should be noted.


    Advancement is there, but you may have to wait or travel to get to them. If you have a B.S in RT or an M.S, it makes you a lot more attractive because so few have the BSRT, and with your MS, if you like to teach you can also explore that as an option/.

    We all need a Nurse, but only a slight handful need RT's, because the only time you need Respiratory Therapists is when you have difficulty breathing.

    And yes, a lot of RT's i've known do become RN's, however this is only because of the lack of advancement reason cited above, which is why a lot of RN's also dont become RT's, not because its a step down, but Nursing has so many oppurtunitiues, so if you were already an RN, why would you go to RT where you might cut down your oppurtunities immensely.

    On the flip side of that, though, i've known a lot of RT's whom have gone on to other careers such as Physician Assistant, Medical School, Chiro, Dental School, and even PT, as RT often serves as the open door door for these people into the healthcare field. You never hear an RN going to be an RT, but you never hear an RN going to medical or dental school, or for PT and physican assistant either.

    Also I know there are also a lot of Nurses who want to get out of the profession, because of the physical and mental abuse you will take, and you will take a beating. You will get emotionally assulted daily by a family member or a cranky doctor or another ****** nurse or your supervisor or even an RT one day for your dose of mental stress and abuse on your body, and that will be followed by physical abuse of being on your feet not stop for 8 to 12 hrs a day.

    RT's also have much more autonomy compared to RN's, RT's can actually treat people, and make a huge impact on a patient.
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    Ok so I'm just going to paste here what I wrote in another section of the forum, since it's pretty much the same post which I failed to see...

    Hi there,

    I'm an RRT and although I have not personally gone through nursing school, I do work closely with another therapist who has. Therefore, I'll just try to answer some of your questions as best as I can based on the experiences that he shared with me. First of all, it wouldn't be realistic for anyone here to tell you if the respiratory or the nursing school is harder because it's really individually dependent on your interest and your ability to learn certain concepts.

    Before you decide which field you'd like to pursue, take a look at the curriculum of each program just to see what type of things you get to learn and ask yourself which to you are more interesting. I do think that most of the time the program will seem easier IF it's something that you like to learn because let's face it, if you're studying something that you're not really interested in, it will take a lot more effort for it to stick. If you're not doing too well in nursing school, try respiratory and you may like it so much you'll be soaking up the material like a sponge and do great. For some people, respiratory is too specialized and they'd rather learn a little bit about everything else instead of just focusing on breathing.

    Now, the therapist that I told you about breezed through nursing school and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. According to him, nursing was a lot easier than the respiratory school but then again, he was already at an advantage having a strong critical care background and in respiratory, we're all in critical care unless you work in a sleep lab or do PFTs. So would nursing be a walk in the park for every therapist entering their program? Most likely not, they could probably do pretty well in some areas of nursing but others not. If you're not a therapist and are entering either program for the first time, well, then it'll just come down to your intellect and your desire to learn.

    It's true that as a nurse you do have to know a little bit about a lot but you don't have to know everything about anything, nobody does. In my girlfriend's first nursing year which she just finished, she studied respiratory for 2 weeks, I studied respiratory for 2 years and I still don't know everything so I doubt she's ahead of me when it comes to breathing (she thinks she is though lol). As you work more, however, you will learn more and more about a lot, including respiratory if you get to work in the ICU but you will still never know everything. Some ICU nurses are very good when it comes to the respiratory stuff, but some don't have a clue and I often wonder who let them into the unit. But then again, some therapists don't have a clue about what they're doing and I also wonder who let them into the unit. It all comes down to the individual, not the two letters behind their name. There is a lot in nursing that I don't have a clue about but I promise you there are things in respiratory that I can talk about that'll make your head spin. Nursing isn't just wiping asses and respiratory isn't just giving treatments, you get out of it what you put into it. I'd tell you to stick with nursing just because there is more room for advancement, but always stay humble and do ask your RT colleague questions if you're interested in respiratory. I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned from my ICU RN friends by picking their brain and even though I specialize in lungs and partially in the heart only, everything is connected so it's nice to be able to get as big of a picture as you can. Whatever you pick, be a sponge and do the best you can. Let me know if you have any more questions that I can answer for you.

    P.S.

    Forgot to say, as a respiratory therapist you are also on the front lines, more so than you think. It just depends on where you work, how much autonomy you get, how good you are and how bad the attending is. In one of the hospitals I work in if one of the patients' respiratory status deteriorates I can pretty much do whatever I want to fix him. If the doc orders something that I don't feel is beneficial or can be harmful (does happen) to the patient I can basically "recommend" something else and I will get it. In another hospital I work for, I basically do what the order says because most are really good docs and know very well what they're doing. Rarely will I have to say anything but sometimes I will if I feel I can contribute.


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