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Online Career Education in Respiratory Therapy: Program Summaries

A number of colleges and universities offer partially online career education in the respiratory therapy field. This article provides summaries of some common online programs in respiratory therapy, as well as career information.

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Essential Information

Online career education in respiratory therapy is available through both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the field. These education programs generally include a mixture of virtual classroom instruction, usually via video or web conferencing, and extensive on-site clinical training.

Online Program Summaries

Associate of Science

An online associate's degree program in respiratory therapy typically takes about 2 years of full-time study to complete and includes both classroom instruction online and school-approved clinical training, which commonly takes place at a hospital or healthcare facility near the student. Coursework can include respiratory care theory and practice, general science and anatomy. Successful completion of the program qualifies graduates to take both the entry-level Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the advanced level Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exams through the National Board for Respiratory Care.

Bachelor of Science

Respiratory therapy professionals can pursue a bachelor's degree for career advancement opportunities beyond those provided by an associate's degree. The curriculum of online bachelor's degree programs focuses on essential skills and knowledge of a respiratory practitioner in a management role. Classes can include cardiopulmonary pharmacology, lung hyperinflation therapy and pulmonary function testing.

Program length can depend on the institution and prior academic experience of the student, lasting anywhere from 2-4 years. Graduates of an accredited respiratory therapy bachelor's degree program are eligible to seek the National Board for Respiratory Care's RRT credentials, state licensure and Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) specialty certification.

Career Information

The field of respiratory therapy includes both respiratory therapists and respiratory technicians. Normally respiratory therapists have more education and experience than a respiratory technician and are licensed to practice in the state where they work. Each respiratory care professional evaluates and treats patients who have cardiopulmonary disorders and breathing issues. The majority of respiratory therapists and technicians work in general medical and surgical hospitals. Many employers require that entry-level respiratory therapy job applicants hold an associate's degree, while others may require a bachelor's degree.

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