Hello all! I am in the midst of considering a career change to Respiratory Therapy. This has been after long, carefull consideration. At first, I thought of nursing - but in the end, I am just not interested in total patient care. RT looks like it affords more opportunities for critical thinking, and I am a bit of an adrenalin junky and like the role RTs play in codes, ER(s), ICU, etc. RT seems like it is more hands on and procedures/equipment oriented.
That said, I have several questions:
a) Nursing seems to pay better than RT - at least $5 to $7 more an hour. Does this gap eventually narrow as you gain more experience as an RT?
b) Pay ranges in Phoenix where I live is generally $15-$22 an hour. How fast can you advance along the pay scale? Does it burn you up that nurses make more?
c) What are opportunities for OT usually like?
d) How does job satisfaction to nursing compare? Do you think any one feel is happier?
e) Any advice for a new person starting out in the field?
The last time I answered this question, I spoke for over an hour! That said, I suggestr you go to AARC.org and look over the information provided there.
From a personal note, you get what you give to your career. Reasearch your job prospects carefully. There are many choices from Critical Care to Floor therapy to home care that can all advance to management and education. I know some therapists who have gone on to Case Management. I love my career choice. I learn something new every day. If you don't, you're not trying.
Salaries generally do seem to be a bit lower than nursing salaries, and your salary range seems to be right on the money. Obviously, dependent on location and cost of living. I'm sure our California associates earn salaries closer to the top of that range, but I still wouldn't be able to afford a mortgage on that salary.
If you are looking to begin your education next Fall, you have some time. Call a local hospital and speak to the Respiratory Therapy manager. Ask to shadow a therapist for a day. Pick a couple of different hospitals. See a big medical center and a small community hospital. Go to your local college for information. If I can help you in any other way, feel free to ccontact me off this post at email@example.com
Our pay will always(or so it seems) be less than RN's. With that said with a little time in the field you can advance your pay scale to a decent range. A willingness to work overtime can push your salary to over $100,000 yr.(lots of O.T.).
Nurses make a little more but as far as work load RT is the way to go.
The trade off is not worth it.
a mechanical ventilation genius
poop or snot take your pick
a mechanical ventilation genius
Come on! The trade off is not worth it!
Let me give you the perspective of both ...
I've been an RRT for nearly 17 yrs and an RN for 7 of those. I graduate in 2 mos with my MSN and as an NNP. I loved my years in NNICU as an RRT but if you want to get more involved and make a difference in the care and future of your pt, do nursing. Unfortuneatly, RT's are viewed in most instuititions as 'Ancillary Staff'. That's not to say they can't or don't contribute, it's that they'll never be recognised as a force in healthcare due to a variety of factors: sheer #'s, level of worth to the ruling medical hierarchy/ administration, and even public recognition (ask ten strangers what RT stands for... then ask what RN stands for).
Alot depends on what you want out of it - pay? - generally equal at entry level ( I took a pay cut RT ->RN, RN greater LT)), job security? - RN >RT (RN listed as top 10 hottest jobs in next decade) Adrenalin junkie? RN=RT.
The biggest advantage of an RN degree is flexibily - in position and location. Kids?Adults?OR/Trauma? Burns? Public Health? Teaching? You choose as an RN. There's no place in the world that an RN degree won't get you a job.
Now don't get me wrong. The RRT combined with the MSN, NNP letters are causing the recruiters and headhunters to kick down my door with job offers. In fact I recommend trying RT for a couple of years to find your niche and build on it.
But to choose one over the other, I'm sad to say to my fellow RRT's that it's nursing.
for your feedback...
To perhaps counter what was said a couple posts up..
A while back I was working at a teaching hospital. I was a Clinical Supervisor in the RT Dept. When staffing permitted I would do rounds in the ICU.
Without going into the details, let's just say that what I was often able to accomplish, the results achieved, were often light years away from anything which the ICU RN's ever got to do. I would be called in at 5 AM to see that difficult to ventilate patient....pH 6.9 on the PC settings. After putting the patient on APRV we got the pH down to 7.38 just as the THAM was being readied. The morning attendings were eager to return the patient to PC, even SIMV, modes they were familiar with...as the senior residents whom were there during the low pH mess were shaking in their boots at the thought.
Ditto with starting inhaled Flolan (never before done) and watching PA pressure drop from 90 to 40 as cardiac surgeon residents mouths were agape....fighting the "SIMV to PS" traditional weaning mantra and trying to get the new weaning consensus statement mentality instilled, taking patients deemed "unweanable" and getting them off the vent.....NONE of this is anything I ever saw any of the RN's getting to do. But then much of the RN staff (and RT's also) were so burned out and demoralized that it shouldn't be surprising.
If you want you position and respect handed to you on a platter, go into nursing.
If you want to get another kind of respect, the kind you have to fight an uphill battle to get (but is so much sweeter), go into RT....