I LOVE good R/T. Their main focus is your patient's airway, while the Nurse has to focus on the patient as a whole. I would say they are F-A-R from useless. They can teach you a ton of things like vent settings on different vents, best ways to work with patients on vent weaning, and they are great in decannulation emergencies. I have worked with some great R/T that have been a huge help especially when I had a tach pt who needed to be suctioned constantly. Granted there are some lazy ones out there, but the same can be said about every profession.
Ok but what about those on M/S units? I can understand their value in ICU but.....
I worked in a rural hospital where the RNs were expected to do all the duoneb tx's on night shift. However, there were 2 RT's scheduled on day shift. While the NOC RN was stretched to the max to get all these tx's done, they seemed to have plenty of time to scrutinize your charting of them and seemed to find pleasure in writing up nurses over them if they thought the RN didn't do them, ect. The CNO always took their side.
If your job involves dealing with mechanically ventilated patients, a qualified RT is an essential member of the team. Why in the world would we want to take on respiratory therapy treatments as well as everything else? You can be sure that we wouldn't get any extra 'nursing hours' for it & the nursing department wouldn't see any revenue generated by those treatments..... sheesh.
Respiratory therapy may have originally emerged out of nursing (anesthesia techs), but it has evolved into a profession - with specific areas of expertise that are no longer part of nursing curriculum. Yes, nurses are perfectly capable of performing basic RT tasks if they have been trained to do so, but how would that impact the quality and safety of patient care?
Sure, a nurse can do a variety of interdisciplinary tasks, but having a RT, phlebotomist, and other interdisciplinary help sure makes a difference. Also, a good RT REALLY knows their breath sounds and what's going on with this body system. They are specialists.
RT's have extensive knowledge in the respiratory system- that is their main focus-- while LVNs and RNs are learning about every system some, RTs are learning everything about one system in depth. No, they can not do everything an RN can do as they are specialized in just one area of therapy... but I don't believe as an R.N., BSN that I have even a fraction of the knowledge in respiratory system as a RT does. Yes, there are an important part of the team.
The RTs are mine and my patient's lifeline. I would never want to do their job, even the "lowly" task of doing treatments. And I'm insanely grateful for their presence. They assess, recommend treatment, intubate, and they do ECMO with me. Their respiratory knowledge has majorly helped me with learning that task/machine. They teach new nurses ventilators and some serious respiratory pathophysiology. It's not just about pushing buttons and adjusting settings. They troubleshoot with me when my patient is swirling down the tubes. They manage my airway, which without it, my patient is dead. I trust they have that taken care of while I can focus on other priorities like pushing meds. Oh yeah, and they do treatments too.
This is like seeing a nurse making a patient's bed or getting them water and thinking that's all they do. "You're just the doctor's assistant, right?" Unfortunately too many people learn what a nurse or RT do when they are having to experience it in their own crisis. Don't be one of them.
RT is a very important job. My sister in law is a respiratory therapist. I also had a chance to follow a RT for one day during nursing clinical. I had to follow him throughout the hospital watching him give breathing treatments. This guy did not believe in elevators lol. He would use the stairs. I had a hard time following him because my legs hurt so bad! I also got a chance to meet all of the RT working that day. They were extremely nice and cool.
Like the poster above stated they are the lifeline to some of the patients with trach. When you have a patient that is steadily going down the RT is your best friend.
I always had a hard time with resp/metabolic, acidocis/alkalosis. I whined to an RT once because I felt so stupid about it. She very kindly told me she'd not spent classroom hours or days on those issues, she'd spent semesters.
I really like that RT. I still work with her.
I can't even begin to describe what she can do and I can't.