Qualities Needed for Success As a Respiratory Therapist


Respiratory therapists are trained to administer specific treatments and overall respiratory care for adult and child patients stricken with lung disorders and diseases such as asthma and emphysema. While any medical professional who possesses the technological aptitude can complete the functions of a respiratory therapist, only those respiratory therapists with certain special qualities will be successful at providing extraordinary patient care.


  • Responsiveness is an important quality for a respiratory therapist. The position often works under the direction of doctors and specialists in a hospital or clinic setting, and the respiratory therapist must be able to receive and process a doctor's orders quickly and accurately. The position also requires an individual who can respond to the patient's needs and adjust treatment expediently in order to meet those needs. In the case of a medical emergency, the respiratory therapist must be able to react quickly to save a patient's life.


  • Empathetic respiratory therapists will be better equipped to relate to the patient and find the best way to meet the patient's needs. Modern medical care stresses the need to treat the whole individual and not just the patient. Patients who are made to feel comfortable and cared for typically fare better through treatment, regardless of the condition. Respiratory therapists should be able to see from the patient's perspective and adjust the treatment for the patient's lifestyle, needs and desires.

Detail Oriented

  • A successful respiratory therapist must be detailed oriented. Patient files contain important information about a patient's overall health and not just the condition being treated. In a medical setting, one wrong move or simple oversight can easily endanger a patient's life. A respiratory therapist must be able to follow all medical protocol and consistently remain sharp and aware when performing treatments and when reviewing and updating patient files.


  • A respiratory therapist must also be able to remain calm under pressure. Medical emergencies and patient discomfort can be unnerving, but a respiratory therapist must be able to maintain a calm demeanor for the sake of the patient and fellow medical professionals.

Medically Proficient

  • Equally important is the need for a respiratory therapist to be medically proficient. Medical procedures and treatments require a knowledgeable practitioner to administer treatment properly at all times. The respiratory therapist must also understand the job functions and have the ability to treat patients successfully time after time. The therapist must also have the proficiency to use hospital equipment including computers, monitors and other devices.

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  • Photo Credit oxygen mask and nebuliser image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com
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