Pulmonary care encompasses the respiratory system, which is comprised of the respiratory muscles, the lungs, and airways that allow us to breathe properly.
There are four general areas that produce respiratory disorders:
• Infectious or environmental diseases – pneumonia or tuberculosis, or exposure to asbestos or pollutants in the air
• Obstructive conditions – asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis
• Restrictive conditions – cystic fibrosis, sarcoidosis, pleural effusion, or alveolar damage
• Vascular disease – pulmonary embolism, pulmonary edema, or pulmonary hypertension
The respiratory tract is particularly susceptible to exposure to microbes simply because of its extensive surface area. A patient’s inability to cough can lead to infection as it is the body’s means of expelling the mucus, dust, saliva or other particulates from the lungs.
While the respiratory system possesses the necessary mechanisms to defend against pathogens that intrude on the body, a pulmonary care nurse can assist with deep breathing exercises that will help in keeping the lungs clear from particulates. A pulmonologist typically treats respiratory disorders internally with the assistance of a Respiratory Therapist and a pulmonary care nurse.
Where Can a Pulmonary Care Nurse Find Work?
The pulmonary care nurse is often the specialized Critical Care Nurse found in hospitals working with respiratory therapists in developing a treatment plan or with diagnostic technicians to help describe diagnostic tests to patients. They are also employed in private practice offices or clinics. There is also the need for pulmonary nursing care in private homes with patients who are slow in being weaned from a ventilator or need assistance with conditions such as lung cancer and emphysema and their pain management. There is a need for pulmonary care nurses to provide counseling to the patient and loved ones when receiving the help they need in dealing with more serious diagnoses.
What Does it Take to Become a Pulmonary Care Nurse?
Certification for becoming a pulmonary care nurse is only available to those who are already registered nurses. This is a different license to that of licensed practical or vocational nursing. Therefore, it requires the diploma and associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. It helps to take as many classes as can be of use in this specialty relating to respiratory health as part of the process of preparing for the exam.
Most nurses will specialize with certification in critical care nursing as it is most frequently interlinked with the pulmonary care nurse and can greatly improve the chances of employment. In some certifications, a graduate degree is required along with completing a designated amount of hours in the clinic while meeting other applicable pre-requisites before they can actually sit for the exam.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectation for the Pulmonary Care Nurse
Within the field of nursing, there will always be a high demand for nurses as populations continue to increase and continue to age. In addition, nurses represent a lower employment cost as compared to physicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for RNs are expected to increase by 22 percent within the decade between 2008 and 2018, which equates to nearly 600,000 more jobs. The good news is that RNs comprise the single largest job field in the health care industry, even greater than that of physicians and technicians.
Depending on the nurse’s experience, the geographic location and the particular employer, on average the annual salary expectation for a pulmonary care nurse is $42,000, while the median salary for a critical care nurse was $61,983 in 2009, according to Salary.com. Bonuses, pension plans, health care coverage and paid time off are among the numerous benefits that a pulmonary care nurse who also gets their certification as a critical care nurse can expect to enjoy.