What is a Pulmonary Care Nurse?

A respiratory or pulmonary care nurse provides medical care to patients suffering from respiratory issues and diseases.

It includes asthma, lung cancer, atelectasis, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or tuberculosis.

To ensure optimal outcomes, pulmonary care nurses assist patients throughout their treatment and recovery.

They also provide education and advice on managing their respiratory issues and designing a fulfilling yet healthy lifestyle.

What Do Pulmonary Care Nurses Do?

Pulmonary care nurses conduct various tasks to ensure patients receive adequate treatment.

It includes monitoring the patient’s vitals, recording the health and recovery process, and administering medications.

They also start and check IVs and manage respiratory devices such as artificial respirators, facemasks, and ventilators.

These specialists may provide hemodynamic monitoring, mechanical ventilation, or oxygen therapy during treatment.

It enables patients to receive manual and supplemental oxygen to help them breathe and maintain their health.

Pulmonary care nurses work alongside other specialists during treatment and procedures to ensure adequate care.

It includes registered nurses, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.

No single healthcare professional can manage all areas of patient care.

Working as a team enables each specialist to provide specific care to the patient and assess treatment from various angles.

Pulmonary Care Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Monitor patient vital signs
  • Maintain medical records and report abnormalities during the treatment process
  • Administer medication to the patients
  • Start and check IV drips
  • Assist with treatments
  • Oversee the management of respiratory devices
  • Ensure medical devices operate correctly
  • Provide aid to medical professionals
  • Communicate patient needs to ensure proper care and attention
  • Perform other pulmonary care responsibilities as required

Where Do Pulmonary Care Nurses Work?

Pulmonary care nurses work in various healthcare departments/settings to accommodate those with respiratory issues.

It includes emergency rooms, critical care units,  progressive care units, inpatient care facilities, and acute care departments.

They also operate in non-urgent care and non-hospital healthcare settings requiring pulmonary care nurses.

For instance, some nurses work in private offices, long-term care centers, assisted living facilities, and home care agencies.

Occupational Settings:

  • Emergency rooms
  • Critical care units
  • Progressive care units
  • Impatient care facilities
  • Acute care departments
  • Private offices
  • Long-term care centers
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Home care agencies

The Pulmonary Care Unit

Pulmonary care nurses assist other medical professionals in managing various aspects of patient care.

It includes registered nurses, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, physicians, and other specialists.

Pulmonary care nurses support their teams and manage many time-consuming day-to-day healthcare routines.

It ensures the medical process runs smoothly and patients receive sufficient treatment.

How To Become A Pulmonary Care Nurse

The path toward becoming a pulmonary care nurse is relatively straightforward.

However, aspiring nurses must complete multiple steps to develop the education and expertise to be effective in this field.

It includes joining a nursing program, obtaining a degree, passing the NCLEX, gaining experience, and getting certified.

The following section provides a brief overview of how to become a pulmonary care nurse.

1. Join a Nursing Program

Individuals interested in pulmonary nursing must finish nursing school at an accredited college or university.

To join the nursing program, students must complete multiple prerequisites and satisfy the school’s GPA requirements.

The prerequisite courses prepare students for the nursing program by ensuring an excellent educational foundation.

The prerequisites and GPA provisions also enable nursing schools to determine the likelihood of students earning degrees.

After completing the requirements successfully, students may apply for the nursing program.

Nursing school can be challenging to enter due to the competition and limited seating.

As a result, many aspiring nursing students apply to multiple programs to maximize their acceptance odds.

Some nursing programs also enable students to apply one semester early to accelerate their application process.

2. Obtain an ADN or BSN

Students who enter the nursing program can pursue several academic pathways to obtain various degrees.

However, most nursing programs enable students to obtain either an ADN or BSN degree.

The ADN is a two-year program that prepares nursing students for entry-level roles.

It benefits those who want to work promptly, gain experience and earn money.

Many nursing students will pursue an ADN to quickly enter the field and take online courses to obtain their BSN.

Nevertheless, most registered nurses should aspire to obtain a four-year BSN degree.

Due to its comprehensive education, healthcare facilities and specializations often require or prefer nurses with a BSN.

The BSN degree provides more comprehensive nursing education and prepares students for specialized healthcare careers.

As previously mentioned, students can obtain their ADN to enter the field and take online courses to earn their BSN.

Note: Many nursing fields require or may soon need registered nurses to have a BSN before moving into specialized roles.

3. Pass the NCLEX-RN

At the end of the nursing program, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers the NCLEX exam.

It tests nursing graduates’ competencies to ensure they have sufficient education and can perform their duties effectively.

Completing the NCLEX-RN is also necessary to obtain state licensure to operate as a registered nurse. 

4. Gain Experience

After obtaining licensure, graduates may apply for entry-level registered nursing jobs.

While working as a registered nurse, pursuing experience in pulmonary/respiratory care-related fields is advantageous.

Multiple courses/certifications related to pulmonary care are also beneficial to develop experience and expertise.

After obtaining sufficient experience, aspiring pulmonary nurses can pursue pulmonary function technologist certification.

5. Get Certified

The certified pulmonary function technologist (CPFT) certification enables RNs to become certified pulmonary nurses.

The National Board of Respiratory Care provides the exam to ensure registered nurses have adequate training.

Obtaining certification demonstrates to employers that nurses have sufficient expertise and dedication to their discipline.

As a result, they’re more likely to provide adequate care to patients with respiratory health issues.

It also enables registered nurses to obtain certification specializations more quickly and earn better pay for their skills.

CCRN Certification

Registered nurses who obtain sufficient experience in acute care may pursue the Acute/Critical Care Nursing certification.

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses administers this exam.

Aspiring registered nurses must obtain 1,750 hours of clinical experience treating acute or critically ill adult patients.

They must also obtain the required experience within two years with a minimum of 875 hours within the most recent year.

Alternatively, nurses may acquire five years of experience with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct acute/critical care.

Nurses must accrue one hundred forty-four hours of experience within the most recent year preceding the application.

After acquiring the necessary experience and training, registered nurses may take the CCRN certification exam.

Like the CPFT exam, CCRN certification ensures nurses have adequate training/expertise to work effectively in this field.