Helping Patients Breathe Easy

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Respiratory therapists play an important role in health care

Anyone who’s undergone a serious hospital stay has probably had contact with a respiratory therapist. These important members of the health care team are involved in saving and improving the quality of people’s lives as they treat patients who have trouble breathing.

Practicing under the direction of a physician, respiratory therapists assume primary responsibility for all respiratory therapeutic treatments and diagnostic procedures.

While earning an associate degree, students enrolled in the Respiratory Therapy program at CCAC’s Allegheny Campus benefit from quality classroom interactions and diverse clinical experiences within affiliated centers.

According to Respiratory Therapy Program Director Richard Laurent, enrolling in the program is “a sure-fire way to a good career with excellent job prospects.”

Every graduate finds employment, according to Richard Laurent, director, CCAC Respiratory Therapy program. “We have had 100 percent job placement.”

Previously offered only during the day, CCAC added an evening and weekend program to meet the “huge manpower shortage” of respiratory therapists, said Laurent. The additional program has enabled working individuals to transition to a satisfying, new career.

All respiratory therapy students participate in five-week rotations at local hospitals working alongside experienced therapists. Students get to evaluate different working environments, and those who perform well are often hired directly from the internships. Every graduate finds employment, according to Laurent. “We have had 100 percent job placement.”

A drawing card for the program is the Respiratory Therapy Simulation Lab, which has sophisticated patient simulators that exhibit realistic vital signs.

“The experience they gain while working in the lab makes the students feel very comfortable when they go to work in a hospital,” Laurent said.

Graduates of CCAC’s program are eligible to take the Registered Respiratory Therapist certification examination sponsored by the National Board for Respiratory Care.


Job outlook

Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the national average for all occupations, with job opportunities in hospitals, clinics, home care and sales. The median annual wage for respiratory therapists is $56,290.

Source: 2013

Note: Admission is limited by the availability of clinical sites. Students must complete separate applications to this program. Applicants must meet pre-program course requirements.

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