University of Nebraska Medical Center

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

The Profession

Learning to scope

A Respiratory Therapist is a healthcare professional who evaluates and treats people with heart and lung diseases. These range from acute respiratory tract infections and pneumonia to asthma, chronic lower respiratory disease, and cystic fibrosis. This professional works closely with physicians to create a treatment plan and determine the level of care through patient assessments and advanced diagnostic testing. A respiratory therapist collaborates with patients throughout their lifespan from a neonate that takes their first breaths to older patients managing their pulmonary care plan. A respiratory therapist can educate on the prevention of chronic lung disease and save lives by working in emergency situations with patients and in critical care units. View a virtual display of the evolution of the profession created by the McGoogan Health Sciences Library.

U.S. News ranks Respiratory Care as #12 in Best Health Care Jobs and #53 in 100 Best Jobs.

Starting wage: $59,000
Middle-range wage: $61,300
High wage: $77,240 or more depending on your education degree.
Job after graduation: This program will begin in 2024

Respiratory therapists share their experiences of what it's like to Be An RT.

What can I do next?

Review academic program & requirements
If you'd like to find out about our program to become a respiratory therapist, review the respiratory care academics information and requirements.
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