The respiratory system consists of the trachea, bronchi, and lungs, and it is one of the most important systems in the body. When we inhale, air travels down the trachea and into the bronchi, which are located in the lungs. The oxygen in the air that we inhale is then delivered to other parts of the body via the circulatory system.

Problems in the respiratory system can result in trouble breathing and problems in other areas of the body. Proper treatment for respiratory problems is essential, since these problems can sometimes even be fatal. Respiratory nurses often play an instrumental role in this treatment.

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What is a Respiratory Nurse?
What do Respiratory Nurses Do?
Where do Respiratory Nurses Work?
How do I Become a Respiratory Nurse?

What is a Respiratory Nurse?

A respiratory nurse is a nursing professional that helps treat patients who are suffering from respiratory problems.

As a respiratory nurse, you will often care for patients that suffer from both acute and chronic respiratory illnesses. Some examples may include bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer.

You will also have the chance to work closely with patients of all types, including infants, children, and adults. However, you can also choose to pursue different respiratory nursing sub-specialties, including pediatric respiratory nursing and geriatric respiratory nursing.

What do Nurses Do?

Rehabilitation nurses work closely with patients who are suffering from respiratory illnesses as well as their loved ones. They may work to treat and prevent these illnesses, as well as care for patients in critical condition.

Patient assessment is often one of the responsibilities of a rehabilitation nurse. This typically involves physically examining patients, studying their medical histories, monitoring and recording vital signs, and discussing symptoms. As a rehabilitation nurse, you will also frequently need to measure your patients’ lung capacity and volume.

Treatment for respiratory illnesses can vary, depending on the specific illnesses. As a respiratory nurse, you may be responsible for developing and implementing treatment plans for your patients. This may include administering medications and helping patients with exercises and procedures to strengthen their lungs. Severe respiratory problems may also require breathing assistance devices, such as mechanical ventilators.

During the course of your patients’ treatments, you will also need to monitor their progress closely. In doing so, you and the rest of the respiratory team will be able to tell if a patient’s treatment plan is effective. If it’s not and a patient is not responding to treatment or therapy, changes may need to be made to his or her treatment plan.

Preventing respiratory problems from developing or worsening is another important aspect of a respiratory nurse’s job. For instance, these nurses will often help their patients reduce the risk of respiratory problems by making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and establishing a regular exercise regimen.

Where do Respiratory Nurses Work?

Respiratory nurses can find employment in a number of different types of healthcare facilities. Some examples may include private practices, hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, home care agencies, and long-term care facilities.

How do I Become a Respiratory Nurse?

Becoming a respiratory nurse first involves becoming a registered nurse. To do this, you will need to first earn your diploma or degree in nursing. You should take several courses in respiratory health, if possible.

Below is the educational path for an Respiratory Nurse (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Once you pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), you can then start working as a registered nurse. To start working as a respiratory nurse, however, you may need to start in an entry-level position and pursue additional education.