Respiratory therapist, a career to help everyone breathe easier

Monday, March 30, 2020
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Photo: Seminole State respiratory care students practice their skills on a simulator while in class.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the nation’s attention is on the healthcare field. While everyone is familiar with nurses and doctors, you may be missing a crucial part of the care team: the respiratory therapist.

Dr. Jaime Magnetico, professor and program manager of respiratory care.

What do respiratory therapists do?

While respiratory therapists are concerned with a patient’s health as a whole, they focus their skills and attention on therapies and interventions for the patient’s airways and lungs. “We deliver oxygen, respiratory medications, maintain patient airways and, most importantly, run mechanical ventilators in addition to other lifesaving machines,” said Seminole State College of Florida Professor of Respiratory Therapy Dr. Jaime Magnetico. Respiratory therapists operate complex machinery that do everything from helping those experiencing heart failure to bypassing the heart and lungs entirely.

Who do respiratory therapists treat?

Respiratory therapists work as a crucial part of your care team, helping patients who have illnesses and disorders related to their heart and lungs. Due to these wide parameters, respiratory therapists work with everyone from babies born prematurely who have underdeveloped lungs, to those with asthma and those who have severe symptoms from respiratory diseases such as the coronavirus.

Where do respiratory therapists work?

Respiratory therapists work in a variety of areas in the healthcare field. They can work in hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing care facilities, physician offices and more. “Being a respiratory therapist is a very rewarding career,” said Magnetico. “One of the great things about working as a respiratory therapist is that your day never looks the same. We receive the report from the shift before and start our rounds with patient assessments and treatments, but you never know what type of patient will walk through the door.”

How do I become a respiratory therapist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there are less than 150,000 respiratory therapists nationwide. Due to factors such as the increasing age of the population, the projected growth for respiratory therapists is 21 percent over the next 10 years. Seminole State offers an accredited respiratory care program for those with a keen interest in science and helping others. Graduates receive experience through clinical hours and can continue seeking a bachelor’s degree in health sciences that will prepare them for clinical leadership.

If you are interested in becoming a respiratory therapist, visit or learn more about the profession at developed by the American Association for Respiratory Care.

About the Respiratory Care program

The Respiratory Care Program at Seminole State College, accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, enables students to exhibit capability in the cognitive, psychomotor and affective learning fields of respiratory care practice as achieved by Registered Respiratory Therapists. To learn more, visit