The Respiratory Therapist Career guide is authored by Kim Cateon, a veteran Registered Respiratory Therapist with over twenty years of combined experience in acute care, long-term acute care, home care and transitional/rehabilitative care of the respiratory patient. She is a 1990 Associate degree graduate of a Respiratory Care Program accredited by the CoARC (Commission of Accreditation for Respiratory Care). Kim has a Massachusetts state license to practice and has held that current for twenty two years with continuing education credits through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). She remains a member of her professional organizations, the AARC (American Association for Respiratory Care) and the MSRC (Massachusetts Society for Respiratory Care).
During the first seven years of her career Kim focused on acute care of the respiratory patient at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts. While there she was exposed to trauma patients in the emergency room and daily emergency clinical situations throughout the hospital. A respiratory therapist functions independently under the direction of a pulmonologist. A strict sense of responsibility and strong ethics are always threaded throughout all your actions and behavior when treating patients. During her tenure at Charlton Kim first gained her experience caring for ventilated patients in the Intensive Care Unit.
The next ten years she dedicated herself to caring for long-term acute care of ventilated patients at New Bedford Rehabilitation Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She gained her pulmonary rehab knowledge through full-time work with tracheostomy and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD patients and support of their families.
Next, Kim spent a year working for Enos Home Oxygen Care Company in New Bedford, Massachusetts. While there she gained intense experience educating patients about their sleep apnea and how to most effectively use their BiPAP and CPAP machines. In addition, this role entailed following up with patients to insure patient compliancy and success.
Kim’s next step on the career ladder was a dream job involving the development and implementation of a pulmonary rehabilitation program under the direction of pulmonary physicians at Highgate Manor, a Kindred facility in Dedham, Massachusetts. She remained there for 2 years before being offered a position within the Kindred organization with a charge of developing a pulmonary rehabilitation program at Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Crawford in Fall River, Massachusetts.
During the past two years she has served as a director of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation- Crawford located in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Developing a pulmonary rehabilitation program consists of the following aspects. First, educating nursing staff of the care and weaning of tracheostomy and ventilated patients. Next, respiratory therapists work in correlation with pulmonary physicians to manage patient treatment and rehabilitation. It also requires a close working relationship with physical therapy for successful rehabilitation of COPD patients. Tools of the trade include detailed documentation and close clinical observation of all tracheostomy patients.
Kim says “If you can’t breathe, not much else matters. I thrive on helping my patients breathe easier and I love being a respiratory therapist. It is a big part of who I am and I have a lot of knowledge and experiences to share”.