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Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021

Happy National Respiratory Care Week

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Celebrating a Behind the Scenes Hero

Whether you realize it or not, you or a loved one, if ever cared for in a hospital setting for a heart or lung condition, have likely been cared for by a respiratory therapist (RT). Respiratory therapy, also known as respiratory care, emerged around the 1940s and now includes over 135,000 respiratory therapists in practice in the U.S. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared the first National Respiratory Care Week, and almost 40 years later, we still celebrate the titan that is the respiratory therapist.

With the ongoing pandemic, the RT has been a constant source of expertise behind the scenes, caring for the most critically ill patients. For patients on “life support,” the RT is the elite expert that manages the respirator among many other modalities. Although the RT is mainly behind the scenes and may not be as well known as the physician or nurse, the RT is a highly trained, specialized professional vital to most health-care environments, especially where patients are hospitalized.

In recent years, there has been an overall deficit of available RTs to fulfill the rapidly increasing need for this specialty. Particularly during the pandemic, RTs have been called into action by the droves, and the increased demand has created a special opportunity for those in the respiratory care profession. National Respiratory Care Week is just one way to celebrate this unsung hero.

Louisiana State University Health Shreveport (LSUHS) offers an intense bachelor’s degree program in cardiopulmonary science (CPS) in our local area, where graduates will become respiratory therapists with additional training in cardiovascular technology.

The CPS Program at LSUHS also partners with Bossier Parish Community College’s Respiratory Therapy Program. Graduates are in great demand and can take advantage of immense opportunities to enter into various high-level positions. The CPS program at LSUHS is one of the original allied health professional degrees offered on the LSUHS campus, graduating the first local CPS class in 1979. The CPS program has a longstanding, 100% employment rate for graduates and ranks among the top schools in the nation for board exam testing pass rates.

Anyone with a solid foundation in math and science interested in a healthcare career that focuses on caring for patients with heart and lung conditions may want to consider becoming a respiratory therapist. The additional specialty training within the LSUHS CPS program in cardiovascular care creates exceptional marketability for this four-year degree program graduates as license-eligible health-care providers. With the demand for health care ever growing, becoming a respiratory therapist never looked so good.

Next time you or a loved one require the care of a healthcare provider, just remember, there may be a respiratory therapist nearby. So, breathe easier. You’re in good hands. Let’s celebrate National Respiratory Care Week.

Tim Gilmore is a PhD, RRT, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, CPFT, AE-C program director, clinical associate professor of cardiopulmonary science at LSU Health Shreveport.

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