A bachelor's degree program related to respiration technology typically grants a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Respiratory Therapy or Respiratory Care, preparing students for careers as respiratory therapists. These healthcare professionals evaluate and treat patients with breathing difficulties or cardiopulmonary disorders.
In these 4-year programs, students have the opportunity to move beyond the classroom to interact with clinical staff, including doctors, nurses and therapists. Because respiratory therapists work as part of a medical team to provide patient care, programs also concentrate on communication skills, the ability to demonstrate judgment, critical-thinking abilities and self-direction. After completing a degree program, candidates will need to pass a licensure exam to become respiratory therapists.
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Bachelor's Degree in Respiration Technology
Some programs are for students interested in entering this career field and require applicants to have completed a few years of prerequisite courses with a specific GPA. Others are continuing education programs for current professionals. These programs require current status as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) with the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) for admittance.
To prepare students to work as professional respiratory care therapists, bachelor's degree programs include both in-class coursework and hands-on experience in the following areas:
- Patient assessment/care monitoring
- Cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology
- Respiratory pharmacology
- Respiratory diseases and treatment methods
- Pediatric, neonatal and geriatric respiratory care
- Respiratory care research/education
Popular Career Options
A bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy provides graduates with the skills to diagnose respiratory-related ailments, provide respiratory therapy, analyze patient information and document patient data. Respiratory therapists can pursue careers in the following settings:
- Home health agencies
- Equipment rental companies
- Research facilities
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of respiratory therapists to increase by 12% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, these medical professionals received a median salary of $57,790 per year, as of May 2015.
Certification, Licensure and Continuing Education
Following completion of a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy, students must pass the exam given by the NBRC to become CRTs. By successfully completing two other exams, they can become RRTs as well. In all states but two, licensure is required; by becoming certified, licensure status is typically fulfilled. Additionally, CPR certification is a common requirement.
Students may choose to continue their education by entering a Master of Science program for respiratory therapy or respiratory care education. Completing a master's degree program allows therapists to advance into managerial or teaching positions.
Bachelor's degree programs in respiration technology provide relevant instruction and hands-on experience to students pursuing entry-level training or continuing education for respiratory therapists. Graduates will need to attain certification and/or licensure before going into practice, with CPR certification often required as well.