Respiratory Care Essential Job Functions

The effective respiratory therapist is an individual with an interest in working with and helping people, and possesses an aptitude in math and science. The respiratory therapist must have the mechanical aptitude to work with equipment used to deliver therapy, as well as sophisticated life support, diagnostic, and monitoring instruments. They should be in good health and possess the necessary physical attributes to move freely and quickly about healthcare facilities (sometimes in confined spaces), be on their feet for an extended period of time, and assist in the positioning/moving of patients and equipment. Therapists must have the physical ability to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (external cardiac compressions) and the tactile sensitivity to draw blood, as necessary.

The physical aspects of the job require considerable effort on a constant basis as in lifting, pulling, or pushing heavy loads (e.g. bulky, awkward, more than 50 lbs.) The respiratory therapist is viewed as a model for good health practices, and thus smoking by respiratory students and practicing therapists is strongly discouraged.

Respiratory therapists must have the ability to manage time effectively, exercise independent judgment, assume responsibility for their own work/actions, and sometimes work under stressful conditions. They must possess ethical judgment, integrity, honesty, dependability, and accountability.

It is necessary for prospective Respiratory Care students to realize the cognitive, psychomotor, and behavioral skills that must be mastered to successfully complete the curriculum. The essential functions of a student enrolled into the Respiratory Care program requires that the student, with or without reasonable accommodations, be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to perform essential functions for a maximum of a 10-hour shift.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to protect a patient when the patient is standing and ambulating on all surfaces with or without the use of assistive devices, including canes, crutches, and walkers.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to safely move a patient weighing more than 100 pounds from one surface to another using the appropriate level of help.
  4. Demonstrate safe body mechanics in the process of all patient treatments, including lifting and carrying small equipment (less than 50 pounds) and moving large equipment (more than 50 pounds).
  5. Demonstrate the ability to manipulate dials on equipment.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to coordinate simultaneous motions.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to perform occasional overhead extension.
  8. Demonstrate the ability to hear blood pressure, heart, and lung sounds with or without corrective devices.
  9. Demonstrate the ability to palpate soft tissue including pulse, muscle, and bones.
  10. Demonstrate the ability to perform interventions such as sterile procedures, dressing changes, and administering of medications (including dosage calculations when necessary) following infection control procedures.
  11. Demonstrate adaptability to change in a dynamic healthcare environment.
  12. Demonstrate the ability to establish effective relations with others.
  13. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively, safely, and efficiently in English by:
    1. explaining procedures.
    2. receiving information from others.
    3. receiving information from written documents.
    4. exhibiting appropriate interpersonal skills.
    5. conveying information to others verbally.
    6. conveying information to others in writing.
  14. Demonstrate the ability to distinguish color changes.
  15. Demonstrate the ability to detect an unsafe environment and carry out appropriate emergency procedures including:
    1. detecting subtle environment changes and odors including, but not limited to the smell of burning electrical equipment, smoke and spills.
    2. detecting high and low frequency sounds, including but not limited to alarms, bells, and emergency signals.