For students who want to pursue a career in respiratory therapy, there are degrees they can complete on line, but clinical experience is generally required for licensing. We will discuss the available degree levels, prerequisite requirements, and how to know if the program is properly accredited and licensed.
How to Select an Online Respiratory Therapy Tech School
Respiratory therapy technicians assist respiratory therapists with various procedures that patients undergo to treat lung or airway conditions. Online degrees are offered at associate's and bachelor's degree levels at select colleges. Students must weigh the program objectives with the licensing requirements.
Program Objectives and Degree Type
There are generally two types of online degrees for respiratory therapy technicians. The first type is a hybrid associate's degree for those who wish to enter the field of respiratory therapy. This type of degree normally allows students to complete most of the textbook portion of their courses online, while still requiring students to complete clinical portions of their studies in a traditional format.
The second type is a bachelor's degree designed for practicing respiratory therapy technicians or respiratory therapists who wish to finish their bachelor's degree while still working full time. Admission requirements for this type of program vary, but often include either registered respiratory therapist status or prior completion of an accredited degree program.
Licensing Requirements and Accreditation
Licensing requirements for respiratory therapy technicians vary from state to state. Many states require respiratory therapy technicians to graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). To gain accreditation, these programs must generally require that students attend clinical sessions in person.
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Online Programs for Respiratory Therapy Technicians
Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy Technology
Associate's degree programs in respiratory therapy technology are usually designed as preparatory programs for aspiring respiratory technicians. These are either designed as hybrid programs or they simply provide coursework without addressing students' clinical requirements. Normally, associate's degrees in this field offer courses that vary in flexibility and time requirements. It's important to note that clinical requirements must be fulfilled in order to become a respiratory therapy technician. Courses include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Mechanical ventilation
- Cardiopulmonary and renal anatomy and physiology
- Respiratory therapy cardiopulmonary pharmacology
- Adult trauma care
Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy - Completion Program
A bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy is often designed as a completion program for those who are already working in the respiratory therapy field. Students can study on a flexible or accelerated track to complete a bachelor's degree online while still working full time. Work experience may substitute for some program credits, but students will likely need to complete some program-specific coursework and substantial general education requirements. Students take courses in:
- Pulmonary anatomy and physiology
- Sleep medicine
- Advanced patient monitoring and assessment
- Biological psychology
- Quality improvement in healthcare
Online Schools with Respiratory Therapy Programs
Independence University has designed an online Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy program that students can complete in 26 months. This program prepares students to take the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) credentialing exam. This program can accommodate students who have never worked in healthcare before, as well as those who have already learned some professional credentials like the CRT or RRT, as there are different course tracks depending on your prior education. There are some clinical practicums students must complete in an actual clinical or hospital setting. Students must also complete some prerequisite courses, like Introduction to Respiratory Therapy, Patient Assessment and Psychology of Motivation before beginning the actual program coursework.
Boise State University offers a Bachelor's of Science in Respiratory Care as a RRT To bachelor's degree completion program. Students must apply directly to the university, who will then verify the RRT credential. For students who have had no prior general education course history, they must also complete GE courses in addition to the 11 required courses in the program. If students have already completed GE requirements, the program can be completed in only 2 years. Technical requirements include having access to a PC or MAC computer that is running either Windows 95 or newer, MAC OS 8 or newer, or Linux.
In summary, students have a few online options when seeking a program in respiratory therapy. They may want to keep their career goals in mind, as well as whether they have any history working in this field or past educational courses that could transfer over, before making a decision.