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Online Bachelors Degree in Respiratory Therapy: Program Summary

Learn about online bachelor's degree programs with respiratory therapy courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Those who hold an associate's degree in respiratory therapy can find online bachelor's degree completion programs in this field. Programs typically follow a hybrid format; though most of the coursework is available online, clinical internships must be completed in person.

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Bachelor's Degree in Respiratory Therapy

Online bachelor's degree programs in respiratory therapy are often degree completion programs. Applicants must have earned an associate's degree in respiratory therapy and be in good academic standing. Among the objectives of a respiratory therapy program are the development of leadership skills, advanced knowledge of effective patient care and the ability to identify and analyze factors that affect the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery. Students also learn about a variety of medical concepts related to the respiratory system, including cardiac and renal anatomy, pulmonary anatomy, arterial blood gases and cardiopulmonary physiology.

Program Information and Requirements

Students in an online respiratory therapy bachelor's degree program may access class materials and submit finished assignments 24 hours a day through their school's website. Interactions with instructors and other students are conducted via online forums and e-mail. Programs are a hybrid of online and traditional instruction, and academic credit for clinical internships must be earned by working at a participating medical facility. A bachelor's degree is typically earned in four years, but a completion program may be finished in as little as one.

A newer personal computer, Internet access and word processing software are the primary technical requirements to take part in an online program. Schools may use Blackboard or other Web content management systems, such as Desire2Learn.

Course Topics

Bachelor's degree programs in respiratory therapy may include a set of general education courses designed to complement the major. Psychology, technical writing and statistics are among the possibilities.

Healthcare Research Review

Students in this course survey current medical and popular writing on the provisioning and practice of medicine. Coursework helps students develop skills for staying up-to-date with new healthcare information and applying relevant portions to the care of respiratory patients.

Patient Care

This course examines methods and techniques of evaluating the condition of critically ill patients. Coursework emphasizes evaluation of the cardiovascular, respiratory and renal systems.

Healthcare Management

Students learn current administrative practices and the skill-set needed to manage healthcare environments in this course. Topics covered also include emerging trends in the management of healthcare delivery.

Polysomnography and Sleep Medicine

This course examines the present state of sleep medicine and the use of polysomnography equipment (which monitors functions like heart rhythm and eye movements during sleep) in the treatment of sleep disorders. Other topics covered include the anatomy and physiology of breathing during sleep.


Career Information

Students who graduate from an online respiratory therapy bachelor's degree program are prepared to establish a new career as a respiratory therapist or advance an existing career. Employment opportunities are available in hospitals, retirement homes, home healthcare providers and private physician's offices. Most job openings will be in hospitals, however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of respiratory therapists was projected to increase 12% from 2014-2024, faster than the average for all occupations, as reported by the BLS. As of May 2015, respiratory therapists earned a median salary of $57,790 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Every U.S. state except Hawaii and Alaska requires respiratory therapists to be licensed. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) offers the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential to students who graduate from a respiratory therapy program accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and pass an examination. The examination is offered at NBRC exam centers throughout the U.S., but not online.

Master's degree programs related to respiratory therapy are also available, including those that involve online or hybrid learning. Some programs are designed to help respiratory therapists advance to upper-level roles and may result in a degree such as a Master of Science in Respiratory Care Leadership.

Bachelor's degree programs in respiratory therapy are available online, though an in-person internship is typically required. Coursework covers respiratory therapy techniques as well as administrative practices and skills.

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