Monday, October 22, 2012

Respiratory Care Week

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By Nurse Diane

When I was going to nursing school, they had another program for respiratory therapy.  We would get together at times during a club meeting for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).  Breathing is one of the most basic human needs we have.  Without the exchange of oxygen, we would cease to live.  The respiratory students went through rigorous training and testing to be able to work with patients who had respiratory needs.

According to Wikipedia, the profession of respiratory care was officially established over 60 years ago; and respiratory research has officially existed since the early 1900s.During the early years, respiratory therapists were referred to as "oxygen technicians", and most of their activities involved moving cylinders of compressed gas and administering oxygen via nasal catheter or oxygen tent. Most oxygen technicians were trained on the job, although brief training programs began to appear in the late 1940s and 1950s.  Today the profession hardly resembles what it was in the 1940s. Respiratory Therapists provide direct care, patient education, and care coordination. They are academically trained in respiratory nursing and respiratory medicine. They practice in acute care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, assisted-living centers, sub-acute care units, rehabilitation centers, diagnostics units, and in the home.
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In the hospital they are responsible not only for transporting oxygen and applying nasal cannulas, but they also perform treatments for inhalers, monitor the life support machines, check oxygen levels in the blood, monitor sleep studies, perform lung percussions, use suction techniques, and assist during heart attack codes.

Some even help to transport patients by ambulance and helicopters.  They work with newborns and the elderly in assisting to aid the breathing process.

If you have ever been in the hospital, you have probably had some contact with a respiratory therapist. This week is designated as Respiratory Care Week.  It is to honor those who specialize in our breathing needs. The American Association for Respiratory Care, or AARC, has listed several ways on their website, to acknowledge this time.  Some of their suggestions include:
  • Celebrate - Hosting activities to honor and reward respiratory therapists for their contributions.
  • Motivate - Encouraging patients and their families in their battles against lung disease.
  • Educate - Taking awareness of lung diseases like COPD and asthma to the community.
  • Inspire - Building the desire in others to enter the respiratory care profession.
  • Learn - Maximizing personal and professional skills with new resources.

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For more information, check their website, and don't forget to thank the respiratory therapists you know.

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