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Respiratory Care

Use this guide to find and evaluate information and resources related to respiratory care.

Use this guide to find and evaluate information and resources related to respiratory care. 

About Respiratory Care

Respiratory Care is a healthcare specialty that offers a set of unique challenges in prevention, treatment, management, and rehabilitation of people with lung problems. Respiratory Care involves a wide variety of life saving, life supporting situations, working side by side with physicians, nurses, and others on the healthcare team, and treating patients ranging in age from newborns to senior citizens.

The work of respiratory care practitioners, involves the administration of treatments using sophisticated medical equipment to patients with lung disorders such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and bronchitis. The respiratory care practitioner also works as a member of the critical care team, in laboratories, in rehabilitation, and in home care. Excellent judgment, assessment, and communications skills are essential for the respiratory care practitioner. Problem solving and creative thinking are also essential skills for respiratory care professionals. 

The overall goal of the Respiratory Care program at St. Louis Community College is to prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).

Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat and care for patients of all ages with cardiopulmonary disorders. A day in the life of a respiratory therapist might include:

  • Interviewing patients and performing physical examinations to obtain assessment data.
  • Performing and evaluating diagnostic tests to identify cardiopulmonary disorders.
  • Determining the type of therapy needed for the patient’s condition and consulting with physicians to recommend changes in therapy.
  • Managing ventilators and artificial airways for patients who cannot breathe normally on their own.
  • Performing Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP).
  • Educating patients and families about lung disease.

lungs and stethoscope

Respiratory Care Program at STLCC

Career Information

Job Outlook and Pay

Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. These respiratory disorders can permanently damage the lungs or restrict lung function. The greatest need for respiratory care practitioners will be in rural areas. The median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $61,330 in May 2019.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Respiratory Therapists. Bureau of Labor Statistics. June 2020.

Related Guides

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000