Respiratory Nurse

Job Description:

Respiratory nurses, also known as respiratory care nurses or pulmonary nurses, are specialised healthcare professionals who focus on providing care to patients with respiratory or pulmonary conditions

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

Here are the key responsibilities and activities typically associated with the role of respiratory nurses:

  • assess and monitor patients with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and respiratory distress syndrome
  • evaluate patients’ lung function, breathing patterns, oxygen saturation levels, and overall respiratory status
  • administer various respiratory treatments and therapies
  • ensure that patients receive the appropriate medications and therapies as prescribed by healthcare providers
  • educate patients and their families about respiratory conditions, treatment options, and self-management techniques
  • assist pulmonologists or respiratory therapists during bronchoscopy procedures, helping with patient preparation and monitoring during the procedure
  • perform arterial blood gas sampling
  • perform tracheal suctioning to clear airway secretions in patients with artificial airways
  • accurate and timely document patient assessments, interventions, and responses to treatment


You’ll need:

  • medical skills
  • science skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • organisational skills
  • counselling skills including active listening and a
    non-judgemental approach
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Respiratory Nurse, specific qualifications are not required. However, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for a career in nursing, especially in the specialised field of respiratory nursing. Here are some subjects that can be valuable for aspiring Respiratory Nurses:

  1. Sciences: Strong grades in biology and chemistry can provide a solid foundation in the natural sciences, which are relevant to understanding respiratory anatomy, physiology, and the science behind respiratory diseases and treatments.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are essential for medication calculations and monitoring vital signs, which are important aspects of nursing practice.
  3. English: Excellent communication skills, including reading, writing, and spoken communication, are crucial for nursing practice, patient interactions, and documentation.
  4. Psychology or Sociology: Courses in psychology or sociology can help you understand human behavior, patient psychology, and the social aspects of healthcare, which are important in nursing practice, particularly in respiratory nursing.
  5. Additional Sciences: Subjects like human biology or applied science may be offered and can provide insights into the human body, diseases, and medical terminology.

Post School

Enrol in a nursing program at the university level. These programs typically last three to four years and provide comprehensive nursing education, including clinical rotations in various healthcare settings.

  • Bachelor of Nursing (BN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Clinical Specialisation
After completing your general nursing education, you may choose to specialise in respiratory nursing. This specialisation can involve additional coursework and clinical training focused on respiratory conditions and treatments.

To practice as a Nurse, you will need to obtain nursing licensure in your country or region. Licensing requirements may include passing a national nursing examination.

Work Experience
Begin your nursing career by working in hospitals or healthcare facilities, gaining experience in general nursing practice before specialising in respiratory nursing.

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 44 to 48 hours a week, including evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays.

You could work in a public or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience and advanced education, respiratory nurses may have opportunities for leadership roles in respiratory care departments or clinics.

Some respiratory nurses choose to specialise further in areas like critical care, pediatric respiratory care, or sleep medicine.