A few schools offer online bachelor's degree programs in cardiopulmonary science for persons who hold associate's degrees in the field and work as professionally certified or licensed respiratory therapists. Courses are usually offered in a format that combines online and on-campus study, although some programs are entirely online. A bachelor's degree program generally requires four years to complete, but many credits from an associate's degree program can be counted towards the degree.
In the bachelor's degree completion program, students enter into advanced studies in cardiopulmonary science, looking at ethics and legal issues, pathophysiology, patient management, and diagnostics.
Bachelor's Degree in Cardiopulmonary Science
Typically offered as degree completion programs, online bachelor's degree programs in cardiopulmonary science are designed for individuals who have completed an associate-level degree in the field and are currently working as a respiratory therapist or other cardiopulmonary specialist. Online programs provide students with the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree while building upon their existing knowledge and enhancing their skills in research, critical thinking, communications, and leadership theories. Students complete upper-level coursework in relevant topics, such as cardiopulmonary diagnostics, advanced medical pharmacology, healthcare ethics, patient management, and a variety of other topics within cardiopulmonary science.
Depending on the program, courses can be completed entirely online or in a blended format of both online and traditional classroom coursework. A bachelor's degree in cardiopulmonary science usually requires approximately 120 credit hours of combined general education and field-specific coursework. Due to the nature of a degree completion program, the majority of general education coursework completed during a student's associate degree program can typically count toward the general education course requirements needed for a bachelor's degree.
A typical bachelor's degree in cardiopulmonary science includes courses in professional issues, diagnostics, intervention, advanced pharmacology, and the legal aspects of healthcare. Courses also help students to develop management and leadership skills and to gain a broader understanding of the healthcare delivery system as a whole.
Students are exposed to advanced non-invasive techniques for cardiac and pulmonary diagnostics. Topics covered in-depth include stress testing, sleep disorder assessment, echocardiography, and pulmonary disorder testing.
This course covers the underlying principles of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation development, implementation, and management. Various reconditioning programs are examined and analyzed.
Advanced Neonatal Medicine
Fetal development and congenital pathology are discussed. Emphasis is placed on advanced practice for neonatology and cardiac care. Students also examine contemporary practice issues for neonatal intensive care units and pediatric catheterization labs.
Graduates with bachelor's degrees in cardiopulmonary science usually find employment as respiratory therapists in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Respiratory therapists, or respiratory care practitioners, evaluate, treat, and care for individuals with respiratory or other cardiopulmonary disorders. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment within this field is projected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that as of May 2015, respiratory therapists employed by general medical and surgical hospitals earned an annual average salary of $59,640.
Nearly all 50 states require individuals to obtain licensure before practicing as a respiratory therapist. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) offers two levels of licensure, the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential. Both require that applicants graduate from accredited degree programs. CRT certification requires that candidates pass one examination, while RRT certification requires two examinations and covers higher-level materials.
Fully and partially online bachelor's degrees in cardiopulmonary science are rare but available to associate's graduates working as licensed respiratory therapists. These programs are designed to build upon a student's skills and help them advance in their careers.