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Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists are responsible for treating medical problems with the lungs and breathing. They are vital members of New Brunswick’s healthcare teams. They work with patients of all ages with breathing or airway issues that can stem from a wide variety of conditions such as heart and lung disorders (e.g., asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD), sleep disorders, heart disease, trauma, high-risk deliveries, prematurity, or organ system failures (e.g., kidney disease, diabetes, neurological disorders). You may find them across New Brunswick’s healthcare networks in areas such as anaesthesia, critical care, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary diagnostics, community and primary care, long-term care, and research.

Respiratory therapists treat people from all walks of life, which means they must have excellent communication skills, a high degree of integrity, and compassion to effectively treat their patients. A patient’s condition can change rapidly, and respiratory therapists will need to perform resuscitation during critical emergencies. To do this, they must keep a level head under pressure and have strong problem-solving skills. In addition to the treatment and management of these medical issues, it is also beneficial to keep up to date with new advances in the science and practice of respiratory therapy. Respiratory therapists may spend most of their working hours on their feet and help lift immobile patients, so they must stay in good physical shape.

Personal characteristics and skills

  • Compassion and an interest in caring for people from all walks of life
  • Strong critical thinking skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good organizational and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to think and act quickly in crisis situations
  • High degree of integrity
  • Keep up to date with new advances in the science and practice of respiratory therapy

Respiratory therapists in New Brunswick have a variety of important roles, including but not limited to:

  • Performing a variety of interventions to support the cardiopulmonary system
  • Administering various medical gases (e.g., oxygen) and medications
  • Conducting cardiopulmonary function/exercise testing to diagnose and help manage respiratory disease
  • Providing mechanical ventilation for patients who are unable to breathe without support
  • Assisting in the delivery of anesthesia
  • Providing respiratory care for both the mother and baby in high-risk deliveries
  • Keeping critically ill patients stable and breathing during transport within and between healthcare facilities
  • Providing respiratory care in the community
  • Inserting and managing artificial airways and invasive lines
  • Working with patients to manage their chronic respiratory diseases

Respiratory therapists may work shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays. Some respiratory therapists work on call and travel to assess and follow up with patients. Since physical fitness is a component of the job and they routinely work with patients with transmissible respiratory diseases, they must follow safety precautions to avoid strain and take precautions to protect themselves, such as wearing masks.

Respiratory therapists work in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Hospitals and healthcare clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Community healthcare programs and services
  • Respiratory device and pharmaceutical companies
  • Professional, advocacy, and regulatory bodies
  • Colleges and universities (teaching and research)

Completion of a college diploma program in Respiratory Therapy, including clinical training is required. In New Brunswick, respiratory therapists must register with the New Brunswick Association of Respiratory Therapists (NBART) and pass the national registry examination governed by the Canadian Board for Respiratory Care (CBRC).

Respiratory therapy programs are offered in New Brunswick at the following educational institutions: