Students can train for careers in respiratory therapy through associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Due to the clinical experience requirements, a degree in respiratory therapy cannot be earned entirely online. However, some programs do offer all courses, such as anatomy and medical terminology, through distance learning, while students can complete their lab and clinical requirements at a nearby hospital or other healthcare facility. Students in these programs need to have a high school diploma prior to admission.
For a career in respiratory therapy, all states except Alaska require licensing. According to the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), individuals completing the licensure exam must be at least 18 and either have an associate's degree in respiratory care or therapy, or be enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in the field (www.nbrc.org). The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions, and practice questions are available. Upon passing the test, students become licensed Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRTs).
Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy Technician
The online associate's degree program in respiratory therapy is intensive to the applied sciences, and students typically complete health care courses with labs. Students who are interested in this program must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, although courses from some certificate programs could also be transferred. Through the program, students study concepts pertaining to normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology, human diseases, respiratory problems and respiratory care. Skills acquired from this program allow students to test and assess an individual's respiratory health using a wide range of equipment. Most associate's degree programs in respiratory therapy are campus-based.
Information and Requirements
The associate's degree respiratory technician program takes about two years to complete. It is a hybrid program, which means students take the majority of the courses online, although labs and clinical experiences must be completed in-person. This can be accomplished by completing labs at a local campus and the clinical experiences at nearby hospitals. Students complete the online portion of the program by logging onto the school's Web-based application, where they can interact with classmates and professors, download and upload assignments, watch video lectures and take tests.
Specific hardware used in this program may include CD and DVD players. Students also need to have a working computer with Internet access as well as word processing software.
List of Common Online Respiratory Technician Associate-Level Courses
Courses are conveniently scheduled to allow students to take them at their own pace. Students also take general education classes throughout the associate's degree program.
Anatomy and Physiology
Students study the major muscle and skeletal systems in the body. They also study the way pulmonary and cardiovascular systems work and possible problems that could arise within each system.
Respiratory Therapy Equipment
This course trains students in the proper use of equipment. They learn specific ways to keep track of patient records so they can be analyzed by doctors and technicians.
In this class, students become familiar with the medical names for drugs, body parts and procedures. They learn their spelling, pronunciation, abbreviations and suffixes so they can easily complete their responsibilities.
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Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Program Information
In a respiratory therapy bachelor's program, students acquire the skills necessary to assess people's respiratory health, test for problems, identify solutions and prescribe treatment. The program is intensive to the sciences and includes a number of health care courses. To be eligible for this program, students must have at least a high school diploma or the GED equivalent. There are a few online bachelor's degree programs available in respiratory therapy, but they all have components that must be completed in-person.
Information and Requirements
The bachelor's degree program takes about four years to complete. It is available entirely online, and students do not have to make any campus visits. However, labs and clinical experiences will need to be completed in-person, at hospitals or other locations arranged by the university. Students must have access to a working computer and reliable Internet service to complete online coursework. Computer software programs, such as Microsoft Office Suites, Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader, are usually required. A media player may be necessary.
List of Common Online Bachelor's-Level Respiratory Technician Courses
Respiratory technician courses are available through a flexible schedule that allows students to complete them entirely on their own time. General education classes are also part of the curriculum.
Respiratory Therapy Introductory
Students study the terminology for pulmonary and cardiovascular systems in this course, including their roots and suffixes. They study how the systems work and the responsibilities of the respiratory technician.
Equipment and Procedures in Respiratory Therapy
This course introduces students to adult critical care procedures for respiratory diseases that could affect adults. They also learn how to use neonatal equipment for treatment of infants with respiratory problems.
Students study infectious respiratory diseases and the issues associated with them. They learn how to manage crises and study trends in respiratory disease, including problems with the body resisting drug treatments.
Career Information for Graduates
With a degree in respiratory therapy, individuals can find careers as respiratory therapy technicians or respiratory therapists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), practicing respiratory therapists must be licensed by the NBRC. The median annual salary for respiratory therapists in 2015 was $57,790; respiratory therapy technicians earned $48,490 during the same year.
Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in respiratory technology are available in a hybrid format that combines in-person requirements, like lab work and clinical experiences, and online courses in anatomy, physiology, respiratory technology, medical terminology and infectious diseases.