Essential Functions: Respiratory Therapy Program

The Respiratory Therapy program complies with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and consistent with the ADA, this Essential Functions list provides the framework to relate functional ability categories and representative activities/attributes to any limitations/deficits in functional abilities. These standards shall be used by the Respiratory Therapy program to make decisions related to the ability of the respiratory therapy student to perform the essential functions of respiratory therapy. 

Disability Act Statement: Madison College complies with all provisions of the American with Disabilities Act and makes reasonable accommodations upon request for qualified individuals. If you believe you may need accommodations to assist you in performing the functions listed below, please contact the Disability Resources Services (DRS) office at (608) 246-6716 or (800) 322-6282 ext. 6716 (deaf students via Relay 711) or email(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)


Gross Motor Ability:

  • Move within confined spaces
  • Sit and stand to maintain balance
  • Reach above shoulders and below waist

Fine Motor Ability:

  • Pick up large and small objects with hands
  • Grasp/pinch/squeeze small objects with hands or fingers
  • Write clearly and neatly with pen or pencil
  • Use a computer
  • Twist or turn knobs with hands
  • Adequate manual dexterity as to be capable of maintaining sterility

Physical Endurance:

  • Stand at client's side during procedure
  • Sustain repetitive movements
  • Maintain physical tolerance throughout 8 hour shift
  • Work and complete tasks at a reasonable pace

Physical Strength:

  • Relocate 25 lbs., push/pull/roll 60 lbs.
  • Move objects weighing 10-50 lbs.
  • Carry equipment/supplies
  • Squeeze with hands

Body Mobility:

  • Twist, bend, stoop and squat
  • Move quickly
  • Climb ladders/stools/stairs
  • Walk


  • Hear faint to normal speaking sounds
  • Hear faint body sounds (i.e., breath and heart sounds)
  • Hear auditory alarms, telephones
  • Hear sounds via stethoscope


  • Visually assess clients
  • See object up to 20 inches away and see object more than 20 feet away
  • Use peripheral vision
  • Distinguish color and color intensity
  • See emergency lights/lamps


  • Feel vibrations (i.e., pulses)
  • Feel difference in surface characteristics (i.e., palpate artery/vein)
  • Detect client temperature and environmental temperature


  • Detect odors from client
  • Detect smoke, gas or noxious smells


  • Read and interpret physicians' orders
  • Read and understand written documents 
  • Read very fine or small print


  • Read and understand columns of writing, digital displays and graphic printouts (i.e., flow sheets)
  • Calibrate equipment
  • Convert numbers to metric
  • Tell time and measure time (duration)
  • Count rates (i.e., pulses, breathing rate)
  • Use measuring tools (i.e., thermometer, scales)
  • Able to perform basic arithmetic functions; add, subtract, multiply, divide, compute fractions, use a calculator and record numbers

Emotional Stability:

  • Establish therapeutic boundaries
  • Provide client with appropriate emotional support
  • Adapt to changing environment/stress
  • Deal and cope with the unexpected (i.e., crisis, grief)
  • Focus attention on task despite distractions
  • Perform multiple responsibilities concurrently
  • Show appropriate compassion through communications

Critical Thinking Skills:

  • Transfer/extrapolate knowledge from one situation to another
  • Process information
  • Evaluate outcomes
  • Problem solve, prioritize tasks
  • Use long and short term memory 
  • Identify cause-effect relationships
  • Plan/control activities for others
  • Synthesize knowledge and skills
  • Sequence information

Interpersonal Skills:

  • Negotiate interpersonal conflict appropriately
  • Respect differences in clients and co-workers
  • Establish rapport with clients and co-workers
  • Work effectively with physicians, staff, clients and clients' families

Communication Skills:

  • Teach (i.e., client, family, co-worker)
  • Speak clearly and distinctly
  • Explain procedure
  • Interact with others
  • Direct activities of others
  • Convey information through writing (i.e., progress notes)