As of 2007, the U.S. Department of Health estimates that approximately 225,000 people die every year of some kind of respiratory ailment. Hundreds of thousands more live with the symptoms of asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and other lung ailments. Quick and efficient treatment of individuals with these conditions is necessary to their survival and overall well-being, and those who have attained a quality nursing education are well equipped to fill one of the many nurse jobs that specialize in treating those with respiratory diseases. This guide is designed as a brief overview of a nursing career as a respiratory nurse. Read on to find out more about what individuals in this nursing position do, the training required, and the job outlook for this important role in modern medical clinics and hospitals.
What is a Respiratory Nurse?
A respiratory nurse is a nurse who has been trained specifically to work with patients who are suffering from respiratory ailments. Respiratory nurses will have graduated from a traditional LPN program or RN program, or they will have been educated through one of the many online LPN programs or online RN programs available to nursing students today. They will have also received further training in respiratory care.
Respiratory nurses work alongside physicians who specialize in respiratory diseases in order to help patients maintain a high quality of life and even recover from these illnesses. In the case of treatable diseases such as early stage lung cancer, respiratory nurses will monitor the progress of treatment, use the knowledge they have attained through their nursing programs to assist in surgery, educate patients about respiratory disease, and perform other tasks essential to the patient’s recovery. In the case of diseases that may not be cured such as emphysema and other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory nurses will help make patients as comfortable as possible and guide them in taking the right steps to preserve whatever lung function they have left. Online nursing programs can prepare respiratory nurses for these specific tasks, and many of those who are pursuing respiratory nursing occupations begin their training via a quality online nursing education program.
As mentioned, a basic RN or LPN education is required to become a respiratory nurse. Such training from nursing schools and/or online nursing programs will equip students with the basic medical knowledge needed to help people suffering from a wide variety of diseases, and it provides the basic approach to medical ethics, bedside manner, and so forth that those who will fill any of the many nurse jobs needed for a successful career. Yet because respiratory nurses work with those who are suffering from lung disease, they also need particular knowledge of the respiratory system. This is obtainable through an LPN program or RN program that includes an emphasis on respiratory care. Those pursuing such an emphasis will concentrate their clinic hours in respiratory care units, working alongside established respiratory physicians and nurses to get the hands-on experience that they need.
Whether the student chooses one of the many online LPN programs, online RN programs, or traditional nursing programs, a nursing degree in itself is not sufficient to give one a career in respiratory nursing. State licensure is also required, so the prospective respiratory nurse will need to pass either the NCLEX-PN exam or the NCLEX-RN exam if they are going to be licensed as a nurse at all, let alone a respiratory care nurse. Those who have selected respiratory nursing out of the many different nursing occupations available to registered nurses (RNs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are also strongly encouraged to receive respiratory care certification through the exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. This is the best way to find jobs in the respiratory nursing career field, but getting a strong background in respiratory care through clinic hours, continuing education units, and entry-level jobs in respiratory care units are also effective ways to make one stand out when applying for respiratory nurse jobs.
Respiratory Nurse Job Outlook
Job prospects for those who gain a nursing education and begin work as a respiratory nurse remain excellent in the United States. The aging population will only increase the demand for those who have been trained at nursing schools to care for patients with respiratory ailments. Advances in medical science and new methods of treatment will also increase the longevity of those diagnosed with various lung diseases, and there will be a greater need of those in respiratory nursing occupations to ensure that every patient gets the attention needed to survive.
Just like other nurses, those who have gone through an LPN program or RN program and have obtained licensure as a respiratory nurse will generally command a salary that is higher than the national average. The respiratory specialty generally guarantees that graduates of online LPN programs, online RN programs, or traditional programs in respiratory nursing will be able to earn a higher salary than the national median salary for non-specialized nurses. The salary for non-specialized nurses in the United States was roughly $64,000 as of 2010, so it is easy to see that focusing in respiratory care is an excellent way to improve one’s earnings. Due to this fact, many traditional nursing programs are beginning to offer an emphasis in respiratory care, and there are also many online nursing programs that allow students to concentrate in the treatment of those with respiratory ailments.
Respiratory nursing is one nursing career that is in great demand, and hospitals are willing to hire qualified nursing candidates whether they graduate from traditional or online nursing schools. This site has information on the various nursing schools that train individuals for respiratory nursing occupations and other nursing positions, and those interested in respiratory care will do well to look into all these educational opportunities.
For more information on respiratory nursing, respiratory diagnosis, care, and treatment, and many other related topics, please visit the following resource sites:
- Acute Phase Nursing: Respiratory and Cardiovascular Problems
- American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- American Association of Respiratory Care
- American College of Chest Physicians: Pulmonary Perspectives
- American Lung Association
- Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists
- Lung Health Professional Magazine
- National Board of Respiratory Care
- Respiratory Nursing Society