NDSU respiratory care student sees degree as opportunity to advance

photo of NDSU RC student Hussein

Respiratory therapists are in demand, with a 23 percent increase projected from 2020-2030. Students such as Hussein complete NDSU on-campus education for two years followed by a 15-month professional internship at Sanford Health. Here’s why it could be a great career for you.

Some of our students choose to become respiratory care therapists. Other students may further their education in the healthcare field after completing their 15-month internship. Why can respiratory care also be a great launchpad for those looking to continue their education with goals of becoming an advanced practice provider or physician?

Hussein's answer included three main points:

  1. Developing effective communication skills
  2. Clinical experiences in all areas of patient care
  3. Establishing time management skills

"I chose respiratory care because I wanted to gain meaningful patient contact and clinical experience. I wanted to be directly involved with the care of patients, as well as play a critical role in the clinical team.

“Respiratory care not only provides me with this opportunity, but it also teaches and challenges me to make sound clinical decisions and judgments about patient conditions. These clinical decisions may range anywhere from making or suggesting changes to ventilator settings, medications, or other therapies, depending on how your patient is doing.

“Becoming really good at making sound clinical decisions and explaining why you’re making those decisions to your team as well as the patient and their family is a skill you will need very much when you become an APP (advanced practice provider)” said Hussein.

“As part of my clinical rotations, I also get to see and be a part of a lot interesting experiences, with wide-ranging emotions. For example, we get to see C-sections and live births, which can be very exciting because you get witness the joy of welcoming a new human to world. We also get to be a part of a code blue where a patient’s heart stops beating, and you have to revive them, which is a very stressful environment.

“We also get to be a part of rounds, which gives you an idea of what you may end up doing when you become an APP. These experiences show you what roles different people in the healthcare team play especially advanced practice providers. Additionally, you become very confident and comfortable with taking care of critically ill patients in the hospital,” said Hussein.

“We also learn how to communicate effectively with physicians and other people in the healthcare team. Effective communication is also important when interacting with patients and their families. As a respiratory therapist, you get to work with a lot of physicians and providers which is an excellent way to make connections with them.

“As a respiratory therapist, you also learn a lot about managing an assignment that consists of a number of patients that have different conditions. This is a very important skill because it teaches you how to effectively manage your time and prioritize your patients.

“Respiratory therapy also offers a diverse range of specialties such as sleep medicine, neonatal ICU, pediatric ICU, adult ICU, pulmonary rehab, home care, pulmonary function testing. etc.,” said Hussein.

“After doing rotations in all these specialties during RT school, you will find something you love, which may provide you with an idea of what you want to specialize in once you become a provider.”

Find more information about the Respiratory Care program at NDSU Allied Sciences. Median annual salary for a respiratory therapist is listed at $62,810, as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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