Respiratory Therapists in the Physician’s Office
The area I would like to focus on is the respiratory therapist in the physician’s office. Whether it is a pulmonologist, cardiologist, or family physician, I think we as therapists can make a big impact on patient care in this setting. As therapists we are trained to evaluate, treat, and educate our patients, so this is the perfect setting in which to provide all of these services.
An example would be a newly diagnosed Chronic Obstructive Airway Disease (COPD) patient. As a respiratory therapist working with the physician, we could help to evaluate the severity of the disease by doing a pulmonary function test. With the results of that test, we could treat the patient by helping to determine which medicine would work best for them at this point in their disease process. We could then educate the patient on their disease process, how to best take their medications, and ways to manage their disease to have the best quality of life.
In the past, respiratory therapists were mainly seen in acute care settings, but as our profession grows, our schooling prepares us to be patient educators and advocates. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities for us to provide quality patient care outside of the acute care setting.
Susan Nilson has been a registered respiratory therapist for over 20 years. She is currently a full-time instructor for Independence University in the Respiratory Care program. Susan is also pursuing her MS in Healthcare Administration at Independence University.