Respiratory Therapy

Essential Functions

Functional Abilities

The following statements are given to provide the student with a description of the type of physical/technical abilities necessary to complete the Respiratory Therapy Program and/or work in a hospital or clinical setting.  These abilities are not measured as a requirement for Program admission.  However, the student is encouraged to consider the physical and mental requirements of the Program and to make an appointment with the Program Director and/or Clinical Education Coordinator to discuss concerns or requests for accommodation for his/her disability.  Students with documented needs for accommodations are to meet with Northern Michigan University’s Disability Services Department. 

In order to perform the tasks required of a Respiratory Care Practitioner, certain physical capabilities are required.  Students must demonstrate the ability to perform required functions as a routine part of classroom, laboratory, or clinical education.  Students should be aware that successful graduation of the Respiratory Therapy Program will depend upon the ability to meet the following technical standards: 

  • Gross Motor Skills: Move within confined spaces, maintain balance in multiple positions, reach above shoulders (e.g. monitors), reach below waist (e.g. plug electrical equipment in wall outlet), reach out front
  • Fine Motor Skills:  Pick up objects with hands, grasp small objects with hands (e.g. pen/pencil, needles), write with pen or pencil, key/type (e.g. use a computer), pinch/pick or otherwise work with fingers (e.g. manipulate a syringe), twist (e.g. turn objects/knobs using hands, assemble objects), squeeze with finger (e.g. medication ampules)
  • Physical Endurance:  Stand (e.g. at patient bedside during surgical or therapeutic procedure), sustain repetitive movements (e.g. CPR), maintain physical tolerance (e.g. work on your feet for 8 hours)
  • Physical Strength:  Push and pull 50 pounds (e.g. position patient, move equipment), support 50 pounds of weight, lift 50 pounds (e.g. pick up a child, transfer patient, and bend to lift an infant or child), carry equipment/supplies, use upper body strength (e.g. performs CPR, physically restrain a patient), squeeze with hands (operate fire extinguisher)
  • Mobility:  Twist, bend, stand/squat, kneel, and move quickly (e.g. respond to an emergency), climb stairs, walk
  • Hearing:  Hear normal speaking-level sounds (e.g. person-to-person report), hear faint voices, hear faint body sounds (e.g. blood pressure sounds, lung auscultation), hear in situations when not able to see lips (e.g. when masks used), hear auditory alarms (e.g. monitors, fire alarms, call alerts)
  • Visual:  See objects up to 20 inches away (e.g. information on a computer screen, read medication labels), see objects up to 20 feet away (e.g. patient in a room), use depth perception, use peripheral vision, distinguish color and color intensity (e.g. color code on supplies, skin color)
  • Tactile:  Feel vibrations (e.g. palpate pulses), detect temperature (e.g. skin, solutions), feel differences in surface characteristics (e.g. skin turgor, rashes), feel differences in sizes, shapes (e.g. palpate vein, artery, identify body landmarks), detect environmental temperature
  • Smell:  Detect odors (e.g. foul smelling drainage, alcohol break, smoke, gases or noxious smells)
  • Environment:  Tolerate exposure to allergens (e.g. latex gloves, chemical substances), tolerate strong soaps, tolerate strong odors
  • Reading:  Read and understand written documents (e.g. flow sheets, charts, graphs), read digital displays
  • Math/Arithmetic:  Comprehend and interpret graphic trends, calibrate equipment, convert numbers from metric and American systems (e.g. dosages), tell time, measure time (e.g. count duration of contractions, CPR, etc.), count rates (e.g. breaths per min., pulse), read and interpret measurement marks (e.g. measurement tapes and scales), add, subtract, multiply, and/or divide whole numbers, compute fractions and decimals (e.g. medication dosages), document numbers in records (e.g. charts, computerized data bases)
  • Emotional Stability:  Establish professional relationships, provide client with emotional support, adapt to changing environment/stress, deal with the unexpected (e.g. patient condition, crisis), focus attention on task, cope with own emotions, perform multiple responsibilities concurrently, cope with strong emotions in others (e.g. grief)
  • Analytical Thinking:  Transfer knowledge from one situation to another, process and interpret information from multiple sources, analyze and interpret abstract and concrete data, evaluate outcomes, problem solve, prioritize tasks, use long-term memory, use short-term memory
  • Critical Thinking:  Identify cause-effect relationships, plan/control activities for others, synthesize knowledge and skills, sequence information, make decisions independently, adapt decisions based on new information
  • Interpersonal Skills:  Establish rapport with individuals, families, and groups, respect/value cultural difference in others, negotiate interpersonal conflict
  • Communication Skills:  Teach (e.g.: client/family about health care), influence people, direct/manage/delegate activities of others, speak English, write English, listen/comprehend spoken/written word, collaborate with others (e.g.: health care workers, peers)