It’s as easy as breathing.” Maybe this is a phrase you’ve said before, or maybe you’ve heard someone else use it to describe something that comes naturally, without thinking twice. It’s true that breathing is a process innate to our bodies, yet over the past two years, as the COVID-19 virus infected millions of people and affected their respiratory systems, this instinctual process that most take for granted was cast into the spotlight.

With this change came a new awareness for the work of Respiratory Therapists, who make up a critical health care team that cares for patients dealing with a host of respiratory illnesses.

Although the field of respiratory therapy may have recently gained more widespread attention, respiratory therapists have been faithfully playing an essential role in patient care since long before COVID-19 existed.

Stephanie B., Sr. Respiratory Therapist, UPMC Hamot

Stephanie B. is a Sr. Respiratory Therapist at UPMC Hamot, and she has watched this evolution play out firsthand. “COVID-19 was something I did not see coming when I decided to work in health care,” she said. “It made our job so difficult. Between the nurses, doctors, and therapists, we created a team and a bond as we fought this terrible monster of a disease. I believe that COVID-19 did, however, bring a new light to respiratory therapy, as everyone was talking about the importance of our job and how much we were needed.”

“Working through this pandemic, I learned so much, gained new skills, and built relationships with the people fighting along with me. It is something I will remember forever and look back on one day and think, ‘I can’t believe we worked through that,’” Stephanie said.

Andrea G., Sr. Respiratory Therapist, UPMC Presbyterian

For Andrea G., Sr. Respiratory Therapist at UPMC Presbyterian, the importance of quality respiratory care is something that she has understood from a young age. “My favorite part of being a respiratory therapist is alleviating patients’ respiratory distress,” Andrea shared. “As a child, my father had COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], and watching helplessly as my father struggled to breathe helped me to understand dyspnea [shortness of breath]. It is truly unlike any other suffering, unlike pain or panic alone. My experience as a patient’s family member has left a lasting impression on me, and showed me the impact we have on our patients and their loved ones.

“I’m constantly learning at [UPMC Presbyterian], working with some of the sickest pulmonary patients in the world. I’m constantly growing as a therapist. I get to work alongside and learn from such strong respiratory therapists. I am eternally grateful for the fulfillment that this occupation brings me.”

Christopher M., Respiratory Clinic Instructor, UPMC Presbyterian

In order for a patient care team to work together effectively, the team must have confidence and trust in each other, which is something that Christopher M., Respiratory Clinic Instructor at UPMC Presbyterian, has grown to deeply value. “The best part about the UPMC respiratory department is that as a therapist, you have autonomy. Our protocols allow us to make changes to therapies based on our clinical judgment, and everyone understands that therapists are a key part of patient care. Personally, that makes my career very fulfilling.”

“Working at UPMC has taught me so much. I still see new things after eleven years in the field. I couldn’t imagine learning more anywhere else,” Christopher said.

Amberle S., Respiratory Therapist, UPMC Presbyterian

Amberle S., Respiratory Therapist at UPMC Presbyterian, shared in Christopher’s enthusiasm for the Respiratory team at UPMC. “I was fortunate enough to have worked as a respiratory therapy intern at UPMC Presbyterian during my last semester [of school]. It was a challenging semester, but the extra time spent working with experienced therapists and patients reinforced that I made the right decision in choosing respiratory therapy.”

“I chose to work at UPMC because of its reputation for providing the best care in the area and that people come from all over the country to receive care here. I love that there’s always research going on to improve health care and medical services,” Amberle said.

“Working at UPMC has taught me so much. I still see new things after eleven years in the field. I couldn't imagine learning more anywhere else."

– Christopher M., Respiratory Clinic Instructor, UPMC Presbyterian

NEW Sign-on Bonuses

UPMC is now offering sign-on bonuses of up to $15,000 for eligible Respiratory Therapy roles with a two-year work commitment.

These are just a few of the dedicated Respiratory Therapists, who play an essential but often under-appreciated role on our patient care teams. Despite the immense challenges of the past two years, we’re thankful for the heightened appreciation that the world has had for the work that they do.

Are you interested in becoming a part of our Respiratory Therapy team at UPMC? Visit our Careers site to learn more and explore open roles today.