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Life as a New Respiratory Therapist Graduate (2024)

by | Updated: Mar 11, 2024

Starting a career as a new respiratory therapist graduate presents a unique blend of challenges and opportunities.

Fresh out of respiratory therapy school, these professionals step into the healthcare setting equipped with theoretical knowledge and practical skills, ready to confront the realities of patient care.

This transition period is crucial, shaping their professional growth and ability to make a tangible difference in patients’ lives.

This article explores the experiences, adjustments, and learning curve associated with the initial phase of working as a new respiratory therapist.

What is Life Like as a New Respiratory Therapist Graduate?

Starting a career as a new respiratory therapist can be challenging yet rewarding. You’ll be immersed in a fast-paced environment, dealing with a diverse patient population and complex respiratory conditions. Expect to continuously learn, adapt to new technologies, and collaborate closely with healthcare teams to improve patient outcomes.

Entering the world of healthcare straight from high school—or even before—presents a formidable challenge.

Yet, for Kenzie Daniels, a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) from Fort Worth, Texas, the challenge was not just accepted but also embraced with exceptional fervor, setting her on a path to early success.

Kenzie’s journey into the healthcare sector is not just a testament to her dedication and hard work but also sheds light on the rigorous and rewarding field of respiratory therapy.

Attending Respiratory Therapy School

Kenzie began her respiratory therapy education at Weatherford College, a choice marked by the institution’s distinguished achievement—the CoARC President’s Award, celebrated for its 100% credentialing rate for new respiratory therapy graduates.

“I attended Weatherford College, which recently won the CoARC President’s award for its 100% credentialing rate for new respiratory therapy graduates,” Kenzie recalls, emphasizing the school’s high standards and the supportive learning environment it provided.

A Unique Educational Experience

Kenzie’s experience was unique, not just in the level of education she received but also in her entry into the program at the tender age of 15, graduating by 17.

This early start presented her with the significant task of proving herself to a myriad of critical observers—from professors and clinical instructors to classmates and patients.

“I had a lot to prove to my professors, classmates, clinical instructors, and, most importantly, my patients,” Kenzie shares.

Her journey was marked by a blend of rigorous study, practical application in clinical rotations, and significant personal growth, particularly through exposure to the critical care setting.

This experience highlighted the fragility and resilience of the human body, imparting lessons in mindfulness and gratitude that Kenzie carries with her every day.

Growing Up with a Purpose

Kenzie’s narrative is not just about her academic and clinical achievements but also about the personal growth and sense of community she experienced.

“In a way, I essentially ‘grew up’ in respiratory therapy school, and I am really thankful for that!” she says, reflecting on the profound impact of her educational journey.

The program not only prepared her academically but also played a crucial role in her personal development, shaping her into a compassionate and competent healthcare professional.

Passing the Board Exams

When it came to the board exams, Kenzie’s preparation in the last year of respiratory therapy school paid off, making the exams “a breeze” for her.

This discrepancy between the “test world” and the “real world” of clinical practice highlighted the importance of practical experience and real-world application over theoretical knowledge alone.

Kenzie’s success on her first attempt at the board exams is a testament to her dedication and the quality of education and preparation she received at Weatherford College.

Kenzie’s approach to the board exams exemplifies the adage that success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Spending the entire last year of respiratory therapy school in preparation, Kenzie utilized resources such as Respiratory Therapy Zone to ensure she was well-equipped to tackle the exams.

“I used the entire last year of respiratory therapy school to prepare for the board exams. Respiratory Therapy Zone was definitely helpful throughout the process,” she explains.

This diligent preparation was reflected in her performance, as she found the board exams to be unexpectedly straightforward, allowing her to pass on her first attempt.

The transition from education to employment is a critical phase for any graduate, and Kenzie’s experience in this regard was both swift and positive.

“I found a job immediately after graduating from respiratory therapy school. In fact, I already had multiple job offers before graduation, which shows that respiratory therapists are in demand,” she recounts.

This experience highlights not only her own capabilities and readiness for the professional world but also the broader demand for skilled respiratory therapists in the healthcare sector.

Starting a Career as a New Respiratory Therapist

Stepping into the role of a respiratory therapist, Kenzie describes her early career experience as nothing short of a dream.

The immediate opportunity to work in critical care settings allowed her to face new challenges daily, providing her with a profound sense of fulfillment and purpose.

“My experience as a new respiratory therapist has been an absolute dream! I could not ask for a more rewarding and exciting career,” Kenzie enthuses.

Her favorite aspect of the job so far is the autonomy it offers, particularly in managing ventilators and contributing to patient care plans alongside other healthcare professionals.

Facing Challenges and Advocating for Patients

Despite the rewarding aspects of her job, Kenzie also acknowledges the challenges that come with being a new respiratory therapist, especially in terms of working with providers and advocating for patients.

She stresses the importance of knowledge and communication in these situations, “To put in a new order or make changes to an existing order, you must know enough about the patient to be able to express your ideas.

This requires knowledge about the therapy, medication, and physiology,” she explains.

Her experience underlines the critical role of respiratory therapists in patient care and the necessity of effective communication and advocacy within the healthcare team.

Reflecting on the Journey and Looking Ahead

Reflecting on her decision to pursue respiratory therapy, Kenzie feels a deep sense of gratitude and fulfillment. “I am so glad I chose to become a respiratory therapist!” she affirms.

Her journey from a young student to a professional has been marked by growth, challenges, and achievements.

Offering advice to current respiratory therapy students, Kenzie emphasizes the importance of diligent study and seeking help when needed, “Just put the work in, and make that work quality work… It’s okay to reach out for help,” she advises.

Her words underscore the importance of preparation, perseverance, and the willingness to learn and grow.

Kenzie Daniels’ story is a beacon for aspiring respiratory therapists, illustrating the power of dedication, early preparation, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

As she continues to navigate the challenges and rewards of her chosen career, her experiences serve as a valuable guide for those following in her footsteps, aiming to make a difference in the lives of patients through the field of respiratory therapy.

Final Thoughts

Kenzie Daniels’ journey from an exceptionally young respiratory therapy student to a fulfilled professional encapsulates a profound narrative of ambition, perseverance, and success.

Her early entry into the world of respiratory therapy, marked by challenges, learning, and personal growth, culminates in a career that is both rewarding and demanding.

Through her experiences, Kenzie underscores the importance of diligent preparation, the joy of facing new challenges, and the critical role of advocacy and communication in patient care.

Her story is not just an inspiration to those contemplating or currently navigating the field of respiratory therapy; it’s a testament to the impact that dedicated healthcare professionals can have on individual lives and the broader community.

As Kenzie continues to build her career, her insights and reflections offer invaluable guidance for future generations of respiratory therapists, encouraging them to pursue excellence, seek help when needed, and ultimately, contribute to the vital field of respiratory care with both skill and compassion.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • Kenzie, RRT (@respiratorygram) –
  • “What Is An RT?” AARC, 12 Sept. 2019.
  • “The National Board for Respiratory Care.” The National Board for Respiratory Care, Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.
  • “Awards and Scholarships.” CoARC – Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, 17 Aug. 2022.

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