Because of the expected significant growth in the elderly population and respiratory diseases, the topic of "delegation of physician's duties" is of increasing importance to the German health-care system. In 2004 the German Respiratory Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pneumologie und Beatmungsmedizin e. V. (DGP)) established the new profession: respiratory therapist. A curriculum was defined which offers training for certified nurses and physiotherapists. Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat, document and care for patients with pulmonary disorders. Under appropriate supervision a licensed respiratory therapist performs some of the work previously done by physicians at the same quality of care. The first respiratory therapists have finished their professional training in Germany. Most of these respiratory therapists are now employed in hospital-based positions requiring their specific skills. Generally, the increased medical responsibility and the increased degree of decision-making possibilities associated with the new profession contribute to a better job satisfaction. However, this is not yet true for all the newly employed respiratory therapists. Only few of the new graduate respiratory therapists were awarded higher salaries. It is a strongly recommendation to the heads of medical departments and the human resources managers of hospitals that they should recognise the increased qualifications of nurses and physiotherapists who become respiratory therapists by appropriate remuneration.