What is Respiratory Therapy?

Good question.

When I signed up for the program, I thought that Respiratory Therapy consisted of a lot of trach care. Which is true, but I had NO idea the scope of practice that RT's really have.

Trach Care - A dirty job, but someone has to do it (and yes I know that sometimes nursing does too!)

I have discovered that the population in general has no idea what a Respiratory Therapist does. I have a jacket with a set of lungs on the front, and respiratory therapy on the back and that has started more conversations than I could have imagined. I think it has started more conversations than if, for example, I was to wander around in Hare Krishna yellow.

Wikipedia has a pretty good description of the field:
Respiratory therapy is an allied health field involved in the assessment and treatment of breathing disorders including chronic lung problems, such as asthmabronchitisemphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the respiratory components of acute multisystemic conditions such as heart attacks and stroke. Respiratory Therapists (RT), also known as [[Respiratory Care Practitioners (RCP) are specialists in airway managementmechanical ventilation, and acid-base balance.
The article has a strong American flavour (whereas this website features Canadian spellings of common words, which really throws the spell checker). According to my pathology teacher Respiratory Therapy in Canada really grew out of Polio care.

I've taken to describing RT's as lung and heart specialists. Not sure if that's the best description ever - but it sure is quick and easy to say.