What Is the Difference Between Nurse and Respiratory Therapist?

Healthcare workers who specialize in providing care for patients with acute or chronic illnesses of the respiratory system are respiratory therapists.

They usually work in facilities for acute care.

On the other hand, nurses are employed in every aspect of health care, including acute care, outpatient clinics, public health agencies, schools, etc.

Nurses and respiratory therapists differ in multiple aspects.


Both nurses and respiratory therapists can complete college studies.

On the other hand, there are also vocational/practical nurses who have a different educational route which didn’t include university.

Those are LPNs.

The RN and respiratory therapists can educate at university or at the community college.


Nurses can pick the nursing field to specialize in.

The available fields are ambulatory care, psychiatry, addiction, or other fields.

Respiratory therapists are trained to focus on pulmonary diseases, including cardiopulmonary medicine.

Respiratory therapists are trained to work with critical patients and supporting medical equipment such as ventilators and bi-pap machines.


Nurses care for patients according to the holistic approach.

They perform physical assessments and include psychological needs into the treatment plan.

Sometimes, nurses even integrate alternative medicine principles to improve outcomes.

On the other hand, respiratory therapists deal only with the cardiopulmonary status of the patients.

They also implement intervention when needed.

Job Responsibilities

The facility in which the nurse work determines the job responsibilities.

However, each nurse’s responsibilities include assessing patients, providing nursing diagnosis, creating a care plan, providing interventions, and reporting on the patient’s response to the given treatment plan.

Respiratory therapists assess the respiratory status of the patients.

They work together with the physicians to provide treatment.

Their work also includes administering nebulizers, drawing blood gases, maintaining ventilators, bi-pap/c-pap machines, and helping intubated patients.


The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic predict that the employment growth rate of RNs will be 15% by 2026.

The growth rate of 15% is above average.

The growth rate for respiratory therapists for the same period is 23%, also above average.


Registered nurses have higher salaries than respiratory therapists.

The registered nurse on average earns $68.450.

The respiratory therapist has an average annual salary of $58.670, while LPN and LVN earn $44.090 on average per year.

Nurses and respiratory therapists represent crucial healthcare workers dedicated to improving patient health.

In many situations, mutual work helps to prevent negative outcomes and to improve patient well-being.


Related Quetions

Leave a Comment

Find a Program