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Registered Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist

Registered Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist

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Key Points:

  • Registered Nurses provide general patient care; Respiratory Therapists focus on respiratory and cardiopulmonary health.
  • Registered Nurses typically earn higher salaries than Respiratory Therapists, but both jobs offer competitive pay.
  • Both careers have strong job outlooks, with Registered Nurses having slightly more job openings.
  • Registered Nurses require a nursing degree and license, while Respiratory Therapists need an associate's or bachelor's degree and certification.
  • Registered Nurse training is generally more expensive and takes longer than Respiratory Therapist training.

When it comes to healthcare careers, there are a multitude of options to choose from. Two popular choices are becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Respiratory Therapist (RT). While both careers involve providing medical care to patients, there are some key differences between the two. In this blog post, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of registered nurses and respiratory therapists, as well as the education and training required for each profession. We will also discuss the career outlook and salary potential for both registered nurses and respiratory therapists.

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What is a Registered Nurse?

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who plays a vital role in providing direct patient care. They work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals to assess, plan, and implement patient care plans. Registered nurses are responsible for monitoring patient's conditions, administering medications, performing diagnostic tests, and educating patients and their families about their health conditions. They can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and schools.

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

A respiratory therapist is a specialized healthcare professional who focuses on the treatment and management of patients with respiratory conditions. They work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals to assess, diagnose, and treat patients with respiratory disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia. Respiratory therapists are responsible for performing diagnostic tests, administering medications, providing breathing treatments, and educating patients on how to manage their respiratory conditions. They often work in hospitals, but can also find employment in clinics, nursing homes, and home healthcare settings.

Difference between a Registered Nurse and Respiratory Therapist

While both registered nurses and respiratory therapists provide medical care to patients, there are some key differences between the two professions. Here are a few:

  • Scope of Practice: Registered nurses have a broader scope of practice compared to respiratory therapists. They are trained to provide care to patients with a wide range of medical conditions, not just respiratory disorders. Respiratory therapists, on the other hand, specialize in the treatment and management of respiratory conditions.
  • Education and Training: Registered nurses typically have more extensive education and training compared to respiratory therapists. To become a registered nurse, individuals must complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Respiratory therapists, on the other hand, can become licensed with an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy and pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exams.
  • Job Responsibilities: Registered nurses are responsible for a wide range of patient care activities, including administering medications, providing wound care, and assisting with surgeries. Respiratory therapists, on the other hand, focus primarily on the treatment and management of respiratory conditions, such as administering breathing treatments and managing ventilators.
  • Career Opportunities: Registered nurses have a broader range of career opportunities compared to respiratory therapists. They can work in a variety of healthcare settings and can specialize in different areas, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or critical care. Respiratory therapists, on the other hand, primarily work in respiratory care departments in hospitals.

Registered Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist: Job Description

Registered Nurse:

  • Assessing and monitoring patient's conditions
  • Administering medications and treatments
  • Assisting with diagnostic tests and procedures
  • Educating patients and their families about their health conditions
  • Collaborating with doctors and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement patient care plans

Respiratory Therapist:

  • Assessing and diagnosing respiratory conditions
  • Administering breathing treatments and medications
  • Performing diagnostic tests, such as pulmonary function tests and arterial blood gas analysis
  • Managing ventilators and other respiratory equipment
  • Educating patients on how to manage their respiratory conditions

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Registered Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist: Education and Training

Registered Nurse:

  • Completion of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program
  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
  • Some registered nurses may choose to pursue additional certifications or advanced degrees in specialized areas of nursing

Respiratory Therapist:

  • Completion of an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy
  • Passing the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exams
  • Some respiratory therapists may choose to pursue additional certifications or advanced degrees in specialized areas of respiratory therapy

Registered Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist: Career Outlook and Salary

Registered Nurse:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 in May 2020, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $116,230.

Respiratory Therapist:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $63,950 in May 2020, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $88,090.

Final Thoughts

Both registered nursing and respiratory therapy are rewarding healthcare careers that allow individuals to make a difference in the lives of patients. While registered nurses have a broader scope of practice and more career opportunities, respiratory therapists specialize in the treatment and management of respiratory conditions. Ultimately, the choice between becoming a registered nurse or a respiratory therapist depends on an individual's interests, strengths, and career goals. It is important to carefully consider the education and training requirements, job responsibilities, and salary potential of each profession before making a decision.

Dreambound's programs extend across various locations. Visit these blogs for a thorough exploration of the two vocations, encompassing details on their requirements and insights on how to get started:

Arwena Payumo
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Arwena Payumo
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