Nursing VS Respiratory Care

  1. Hello all, I'm currently in need of some advice as I'm at a crossroads where to go in my life. I have been accepted to an ADN school for Nursing as well as a Bachelors in Respiratory care for another, I have struggled with nursing in the past as this would be my 2nd time taking it. Student loans are catching up to me and I just want get a bachelor's asap, so if I do ADN I would for sure go into BSN after. I also know that if i get the bachelors in RT I can get a good job at a reputable hospital immediately after graduation as compared to (most likely) a smaller hospital with the ADN degree

    My question is would a Bachelors in RT give more opportunity or a associates in Nursing? I am perfectly fine with both, please help! Maybe some Pros/Cons of both. I live in Houston btw, and there are PLENTY of opportunities for both jobs here
    Last edit by w0ntonsoup on Jun 21
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    Joined: Jan '15; Posts: 14; Likes: 7

    8 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    I'm confused about struggling with nursing, I assume pre nursing classes, would getting a Bachelor's in respiratory tech be easier?

    I don't know, but I assume a Bachelor degree in RT would be equally hard?

    I don't know a lot about Bachelor degrees in RT. But you have checked and there are opportunities, so that's good.

    I hate to see you make a rushed decision based on money pressure that you may later regret.

    Can you talk to your loan advisor or get some unbiased financial advise? Not go to school, work for a year, live frugally, pay down your debt. Then rethink your whole career plans?
    Last edit by brownbook on Jun 21
  4. by   brownbook
    PS. You can take very inexpensive pre nursing, and even nursing classes, at community colleges.
  5. by   forevernursem
    Which one are you most interested in? RT or Nursing? If you get your ADN, you will be able find a job in the hospital, but would have to get your BSN within a certain amount of years (here in Michigan its about 3 years). There are also a lot of inexpensive RN to BSN programs that are done online, so you could work at the same time. I heard RT is easier than nursing, but I'm not sure if it's true though. Each are both a great profession, and I'm sure you won't have trouble finding a job with either of them. if I were you, I would go for the degree that interest you the most.
  6. by   BreatheDeep
    Do you want to be a narrow specialist, or a wide ranging generalist?

    When you're taking care of your patients, do you want to be responsible for them head to toe? Do you want to know about absolutely everything that's going on with them?

    Or do you only want to be responsible for 1-2 body systems? Do you want to know an enormous amount about 2 systems, and a decent amount about how every other system connects back to the lungs?

    Do you want to be a specialist? Or a generalist? Wide ranging responsibility or narrow? RN or RT?

    I can't speak to how RN's view their patients, but I can tell you that as an RT, when I look at a patient it's an "all roads lead to Rome" kind of deal. Except its the lungs everything leads to and not Rome, as it were.

    When I get a head trauma patient, I'm thinking about neurogenic shock. Stroke patients I'm investigating if there's midbrain/pons involvement. That guy in liver failure, I want to know what his albumin is. The lady with CKD - what's her BUN/Creatinine? Etc., Etc. We RT's tend to see every body system in a "how will this effect the lungs" kind of way.

    As a nurse, you're less likely to be Sherlock Holmsing everything back to the pulmonary system, instead you take a much more general view, seeing all body systems working in unison. Which sounds more appealing to you?

    As for opportunity? An ADN will give you more, because being a nurse gives you more opportunity than an RT.

    As an RT you can work in clinical care. You can get your board certifications to specialize in NICU/Peds, Sleep, PFT, and Adult Critical Care.

    If you're lucky you'll work at a place with strong protocols allowing you to manage your patients fairly autonomously (for example, physicians don't place RT orders at my hospital. They write for an RT eval, after which we do a full assessment and order whatever's needed. Inhaled bronchodilators and steroids, oxygen, physiotherapy, BiPAP/CPAP, ABG's, and CXR's). You might get to work at a place where the RT's get to do a lot of procedures such as ECMO, IABP, VAD's, CVC's, A-lines, Intubation. Still though, this is all just clinical work.

    Advancement is usually limited to direct line management. Larger departments will often have an educator/coordinator - but usually just one. Large research facilities often have RT's who do research, but again, a very very small number.

    You can become a Case Manager, Asthma Educator, Nicotine Counselor, Pulmonary Function technologist or Sleep Therapist...but again, these aren't advancement opportunities so much as lateral moves.

    As an RN? You can do almost anything, almost anywhere. It's not worth trying to list everything a nurse can do and everywhere a nurse can work, because it's almost endless. You will have far more opportunity than the average RT will. And keep in mind - this is coming from an RT who loves his profession and job and wouldn't ever give it up for any other healthcare career.

    So...which sounds more appealing to you?
  7. by   RainbowSprinkles
    Maybe, right away you could possibly get an opportunity faster but in the long run nursing will give you tons of opportunities!!! Currently, in my nursing program there are 2 RT. A bachelors in RT is a big investment of time/money, go for what you want!
  8. by   Wheezey
    "My question is would a Bachelors in RT give more opportunity or a associates in Nursing?"

    The correct and simple answer is Associates in Nursing. Every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
  9. by   MykRTstudent
    It's really up to you. What do you want to do? I can relate to you somewhat as I was first in nursing school, hated it, and then switched to respiratory. I love respiratory and am sure it's a better fit for me, but that may not be the case for everybody. What can you see yourself doing more? Nursing is very generalized, while respiratory is very specialized. Do you prefer to know a little bit about every body system (nursing), or a lot about one body system (respiratory)? Nurses are truly the first line of defense. They are usually stuck with the same handful of patients for their entire shift and remain on the same floor/department of the hospital. Respiratory therapists will usually travel around various parts of the hospital, and see numerous patients throughout their shift. Basically nurses are responsible for the entire care of patients head to toe, while respiratory therapists are only responsible for one particular aspect of the patients care (lungs and also heart to some extent).

    Does cleaning patients below the waist gross you out? If so, then nursing may not be for you. Respiratory therapists deal with a lot of sputum, which in my opinion is nowhere near as gross as urine/BM. Nurses are responsible for a lot more regarding to their patients, so naturally, they make a bit more in pay than RT's (though in my area it's only around $5 more an hour I believe). Currently nurses have a lot more opportunity in regards to advancement, this is due to nursing being a much older career and also much more generalized. There are various areas in which they can specialize in and advance to. Respiratory therapy does have some advancement opportunities, but at the moment they are limited. They include management, teaching, and business (RT equipment companies, DME) though this can change in the future. Respiratory is still a growing field, which is very exciting to be a part of in my opinion!

    As far as schooling goes, they are different. I've been in both nursing school and RT program. They are similar in some ways, but mostly different. Nursing school is harder hands down. It requires much more critical thinking, "thinking outside the box" as they say. The tests are odd. Like all the answers to a question sound good, and you have to choose the best one. RT school is not really like that. It's a lot more knowledge/fact based, and it does involve more math equations and a bit more chemistry than nursing from my experience. Both careers are awesome fields, you can't really go wrong either way, best of luck in your decision and schooling! Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding respiratory.
  10. by   MykRTstudent
    Quote from forevernursem
    Which one are you most interested in? RT or Nursing? If you get your ADN, you will be able find a job in the hospital, but would have to get your BSN within a certain amount of years (here in Michigan its about 3 years). There are also a lot of inexpensive RN to BSN programs that are done online, so you could work at the same time. I heard RT is easier than nursing, but I'm not sure if it's true though. Each are both a great profession, and I'm sure you won't have trouble finding a job with either of them. if I were you, I would go for the degree that interest you the most.
    Yes, having been in school for both, I can say that RT is easier than nursing. But still it is not easy by any means. Like nursing, it requires lots of studying/practice outside of class. The big difference comes with testing. Nursing tests are very difficult and require a lot more "critical thinking". The tests in my RT program are not like that. For the most part it is knowledge/fact based, and involves a bit more math/chemistry than nursing tests do.

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