There will be no shortage of ventilators in the United States before long. What there will be is a shortage of properly educated and trained respiratory therapists to operate the machines.

RTs are graduates of college programs just as rigorous as those that RNs have to complete. After obtaining their credentials, they must undergo a long period of additional classwork, and closely supervised clinical training before they are ready to care of critically ill patients in the ICU.

Providing ventilatory life support for a person with badly diseased lungs is not just a matter of blowing air into them. It requires clinical experience, judgment, expertise the ability to operate complex machines and the skill to establish and maintain the artificial airways that make ventilation possible.

You can stack boxes of ventilators on loading docks in every hospital in America but without RTs trained to utilize them, it’s all just so much scrap metal.

Mark Hinman, RRT, Green Valley

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