Online Coursework in Respiratory Therapy: Course Descriptions

Respiratory therapy coursework is available online through several colleges and universities as part of undergraduate or graduate degree programs in the field. Online respiratory therapy programs usually include virtual lectures, assignments and communication, but the clinical requirements of each degree program must be completed in person, either on campus or at an approved hospital or community health organization.

Online Respiratory Therapy Courses

Common courses found in distance-learning respiratory therapy programs may include:

  • Pharmacology: Because respiration can be affected by drugs, this course is intended to increase a professional's knowledge of pharmacology. Subjects covered typically include pharmacodynamics, which covers the effects of various types of drugs on the body. Students also study how drugs are absorbed, distributed and eliminated by the body.
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Pertaining to patients who display symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this online course concentrates on four aspects of identification and treatment. These are patient assessment, exercise training, education and psychosocial support.
  • Pediatric Care: This course covers correct ventilator settings and the adjustment of blood gasses for children. Typical subjects include oxygen therapy, breathing treatments and ventilation management techniques.
  • Advances in Respiratory Healthcare: An examination, analysis and evaluation of current approaches to respiratory therapy and techniques are the focal points of this course.
  • Polysomnography: This is the study of sleep disorders, many of which have a causal effect with respiration. Students examine the history of sleep medicine, the nature of normal and abnormal sleep physiology, arrhythmias and treatment applications.
  • Airway Management: Prospective medical professionals learn how to utilize basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation for chronic and emergency airway management. In order to meet the CPR component of this course, students must present the university with a current copy of an American Heart Association Provider 'C' card.
  • Graduate Medical Terminology: This course familiarizes students with more complex and specialized medical terminology, especially terminology relevant to respiratory therapy. Other fields covered include nutrition, physical therapy, and anesthesia.
  • Healthcare Ethics: An online healthcare ethics course looks to apply concepts from the broader field of ethics to the field of medicine. Students will learn how to identify and approach ethical dilemmas that they may face in healthcare, and they develop leadership skills as well.

Program Information

Respiratory therapists are responsible for developing respiratory care plans, administering appropriate procedures, supervising equipment operation and maintaining patient records. Online respiratory therapy courses typically exist as part of associate's or bachelor's degree programs, though they may be available in master's programs as well. Non-clinical, core healthcare courses are typically the only online offerings in these programs.

Individuals who meet the online requirements for an associate's degree in respiratory therapy and complete the clinical portion of training are qualified to sit for Certified Respiratory Specialist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credentialing examinations. These exams are administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC). Applicants who wish to complete the requirements for an online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care or Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Therapy program must hold an appropriate associate's degree and have NBRC credentials, either as a CRT or RRT.

Online respiratory therapy courses are often available in associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs. Interested students can choose from courses that deal with healthcare as a whole, like ethics and medical terminology, or respiratory-specific courses, like airway management.

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