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Career and Education Opportunities for Respiratory Therapists in Tucson, Arizona

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for respiratory therapists in the Tucson, Arizona area. About 3,090 people are currently employed as respiratory therapists in Arizona. By 2016, this is expected to grow 31% to 4,040 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for respiratory therapists are expected to grow by about 20.9%. In general, respiratory therapists assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders.

Respiratory therapists earn approximately $22 hourly or $46,830 annually on average in Arizona. Nationally they average about $25 per hour or $52,200 per year. Compared with people working in the overall category of Alternative and Specialized, people working as respiratory therapists in Arizona earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Alternative and Specialized nationally. People working as respiratory therapists can fill a number of jobs, such as: staff respiratory therapist, inhalation therapist, and director of cardiopulmonary services.

The Tucson area is home to twenty-one schools of higher education, including two within twenty-five miles of Tucson where you can get a degree as a respiratory therapist. Respiratory therapists usually hold an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, so it will take about two years to learn to be a respiratory therapist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, respiratory therapists assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. They also assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians.

Respiratory therapists read prescriptions, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient data to gauge patient condition. They also prepare and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, and aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment. Equally important, respiratory therapists have to inspect, clean, test and maintain respiratory therapy apparatus to insure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when needed. They are often called upon to work as part of a team of physicians and other health care professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures and related duties. They are expected to monitor patients' physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, and blood chemistry changes, and confer with physicians if adverse reactions occur. Finally, respiratory therapists conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, and lung capacity tests, to review patients' cardiopulmonary functions.

Every day, respiratory therapists are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for respiratory therapists to make emergency visits to deal with apparatus problems. They are often called upon to teach and utilize the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, and assistants. They also perform pulmonary function and adjust apparatus to obtain optimum results in therapy. Somewhat less frequently, respiratory therapists are also expected to read prescriptions, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient data to gauge patient condition.

And finally, they sometimes have to explain treatment procedures to patients to get cooperation and allay fears.

Like many other jobs, respiratory therapists must have a strong concern for others and have exceptional integrity.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Tucson include:

  • Audiologist. Assess and treat persons with hearing and related disorders. May fit hearing aids and provide auditory training. May perform research related to hearing problems.
  • Dental Hygienist. Clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop X-rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.
  • Pharmacist. Compound and dispense medications following prescriptions issued by physicians, dentists, or other authorized medical practitioners.
  • Radiological Technician. Maintain and use equipment and supplies necessary to demonstrate portions of the human body on x-ray film or fluoroscopic screen for diagnostic purposes.
  • Radiology Technologist. Take x-rays and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT) scans or administer nonradioactive materials into patient's blood stream for diagnostic purposes. Includes technologists who specialize in other modalities, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance.
  • Speech and Language Teacher. Assess and treat persons with speech, language, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Respiratory Therapist Training

Pima Community College - Tucson, AZ

Pima Community College, 401 North Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85709-5000. Pima Community College is a large college located in Tucson, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 30,529 students. Pima Community College has an associate's degree program in Respiratory Care Therapy/Therapist which graduated twenty-four students in 2008.

Pima Medical Institute - Tucson, AZ

Pima Medical Institute, 3350 East Grant Road, Suite 200, Tucson, AZ 85716. Pima Medical Institute is a small school located in Tucson, Arizona. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 1,017 students. Pima Medical Institute has an associate's degree program in Respiratory Care Therapy/Therapist which graduated forty students in 2008.

LICENSES

Respiratory Therapist (License)

Licensing agency: Respiratory Care Examiners, Board of
Address: 1400 West Washington Street, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85007

Phone: (602) 542-5995
Website: Respiratory Care Examiners, Board of

LOCATION INFORMATION: Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona photo by Howcheng

Tucson is situated in Pima County, Arizona. It has a population of over 541,811, which has grown by 11.3% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Tucson, 88, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Tucson are priced at $179,100 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred sixty-five new homes were built in Tucson, down from 1,131 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Tucson are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 22.9% of Tucson residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Tucson is 9.2%, which is less than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Tucson residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 44.9%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Tucson is home to the Arizona Correctional Training Facility and the Silverbell Golf Course as well as Vista del Pueblo Park and Verde Meadows Park. Shopping centers in the area include Gaslight Square Shopping Center, Grant Park Shopping Center and Grant Plaza South Shopping Center. Visitors to Tucson can choose from LA Quinta, Casa Tierra Adobe B & B Inn and Best Western Executive Inn for temporary stays in the area.