JAANUU » Becoming a Pulmonary Nurse: Everything You Need to Know

Becoming a Pulmonary Nurse: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you passionate about caring for one of the greatest essentials to human life? If so, take a deep breath because we’ve got news for you: Chances are you’re perfect for a career in pulmonary nursing.

The ways to specialize as a nurse are seemingly endless, and pulmonary nursing—or respiratory nursing—is just one of them. If you choose a career in this field, you’ll undergo advanced training to become a crucial resource of knowledge and provider of specialized care. As a nurse, your options are many. But when choosing a specialty that’s as focused as pulmonary nursing, it’s best to go in loving the subject matter. After all, it’ll be the central point of your entire career. 

Think you’ve got what it takes to be the “lungs” of the healthcare system? We know you do! 

What does a pulmonary nurse do?

Pulmonary nurses work directly with patients with conditions affecting the upper and lower tracts of their respiratory systems. These areas include the nose, lungs, larynx, sinuses, bronchi and alveoli. Pulmonary nurses work to ensure that patients with chronic pulmonary illnesses or acute conditions receive the help they need to live their best lives possible. Among the conditions that pulmonary nurses treat are asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, COVID-19, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer. 


What tasks do pulmonary nurses perform? 

Pulmonary nurses have a long to-do list to check off every day at work to keep patients healthy and safe. Here are some of the key duties you’ll perform in this role: 

  • Monitoring patients’ vital signs
  • Administering medication
  • Administering oxygen therapy and other breathing treatments 
  • Monitoring breathing tubes and tracheostomies
  • Assessing treatment results 
  • Helping with emergency treatments 
  • Learning patients’ health history
  • Educating patients and their families 
  • Keeping charts 
  • Working in a team of other pulmonary healthcare professionals
  • Implementing care plans
  • Triaging patients 

Where do pulmonary nurses work? 

Where you work affects your level of job satisfaction, so it’s an important factor to consider when heading into any career. Because respiratory nurses provide acute, preventive and rehabilitative care, you’ll have many options: hospitals, clinics, private practices, long-term care centers and even private companies.

Becoming a pulmonary nurse

Take a deep breath! Here are the steps you’ll need to take to become a pulmonary nurse: 

  1. Get your degree

To become a pulmonary nurse—or any type of nurse—you’ll first need to earn a degree from an accredited nursing school. You can opt for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Although pursuing a bachelor’s degree takes longer, it may be worth it in the long run because it will allow you to specialize or pursue advanced nursing careers later. 

  1. Get Licensed 

To be able to practice as a pulmonary nurse, you’ll first have to pass the NCLEX-RN, after which you can apply for licensure from your state. This is an essential step in any nursing career, whether you decide to become a pulmonary nurse or not. 

  1. Get clinical experience 

With any kind of specialized nursing, you’ll want to get hands-on experience in your field. This focused training will not only help you become better at your job, but it will also enable you to gain essential skills that will help prepare you for a more advanced role. As a pulmonary nurse, you will gain experience in both respiratory and critical care, allowing you to manage artificial ventilation and patients with acute conditions. 

  1. Get certified in critical care

Become an even more educated healthcare professional by pursuing your Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification in adult or pediatric nursing from the Association of Critical Care Nurses. You’ll need to complete 1,750-2,000 hours of direct patient care based on the number of years in which you performed this clinical practice.

Pulmonary nurse’s salary

Think this is a career path that excites you? If so, congrats! Now, let’s look at job opportunities and salary expectations for this noble nursing role. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 9% growth across all registered nursing careers by 2030, including pulmonary nursing. The numbers don’t like: Finding work should be fairly easy.

You should also have luck earning a high annual salary. Currently, in the United States, the average is around $85,000, while some are as high as $163,000.


If you love this field and aim to push your credentials even further, you could become a pulmonary nurse practitioner and enjoy even higher earnings while taking on more responsibility. The average annual pulmonary nurse practitioner salary in the United States is around $108,000. Also, pulmonary nurse practitioner jobs are on the rise due to an aging population that requires both chronic and acute care. 

Whether your focus is on the lungs, the heart, or any other body part, we’ve got you covered (literally) with premium scrubs that work to keep you comfortable and looking good at the office.

Breathe in, breathe out; you’ve got this! 

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