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Respiratory Care


What is Respiratory Care?

Respiratory Care is a health care specialty that offers a set of unique challenges in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, management, and rehabilitation of people with lung problems. This specialty is utilized not only in the hospital setting, but also in home care situations, skilled nursing facilities, medical sales and health education. Respiratory Care provides students with a special opportunity by blending advanced technology with patient care.

Over 100,000 Respiratory Care Practitioners (RCPs) in the United States work to evaluate treat and care for patients with breathing disorders. Some of these disorders include emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis and even premature infants. A major aspect of Respiratory Care is working side by side with physicians, nurses and other health care team members managing life-supporting equipment and life-threatening situations. These involve patients ranging in age from newborn to senior citizen.

To learn more about the field of Respiratory Care, please visit the American Association of Respiratory Care website.

To learn more about the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) and various other programs throughout the country, please visit CoARC's website.

Outcomes data from the latest Annual Report of Current Status are posted on the CoARC website.  Follow this link directly to the Programmatic Outcomes Data page:

You may also write to or call CoARC at the following address / phone number:

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, 1248 Harwood Road, Bedford, TX,  76021-4244, (817)-283-2835


Program Goals and Objectives

Program Goal:  Upon completion of the program, the graduate will be a confident, advanced-level Respiratory Therapist.   

Objective 1:  Upon completion of the program, students will demonstrate the ability to comprehend, apply, and evaluate clinical information relevant to their roles as advanced-level  Respiratory Therapists (cognitive domain). 


Objective 2:  Upon completion of the program, students will demonstrate the technical proficiency in all the skills necessary to fulfill their roles as advanced-level Respiratory Therapists (psychomotor domain).


Objective 3:  Upon completion of the program, students will demonstrate professional behavior consistent with employer expectations as advanced-level Respiratory Therapists (affective domain).




The Respiratory Care Program at Pitt-Johnstown

The Respiratory Care Program is a CoARC approved 20-month Associate Degree program that qualifies graduates to become candidates for the National Registry Examinations. Approximately 30 students are admitted to the first term of the program by the college's Admissions Office. The top 18 students are then chosen from those who have a 2.25 or higher Quality Point Average at the end of the first term of study. All students who complete the program must maintain a minimum QPA of 2.25 in required professional courses.
The curriculum has been designed to prepare its graduates for an exciting and fulfilling career in Respiratory Care by providing classroom and up-to-date clinical education as required by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Students who successfully complete this AMA approved, 84 credit program have acquired the many skills necessary to be eligible for the National Registry Exam as administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Our program stresses the importance of a good background in science to provide the basis for the in-depth knowledge necessary to understand the scope of Respiratory Care as it exists now and in the future. Students receive clinical instruction in the application of Respiratory Care to medical, surgical, neonatal, pediatric and post-hospital patients.


This includes rotations through:

  • General Respiratory Care floors
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Regional Intensive Care Nurseries
  • EKG/Cardiac Diagnostics
  • Quality Control
  • Hemodynamics
  • Pulmonary Function Laboratories
  • Anesthesia Department
  • Blood Gas Laboratories
  • Sleep Apnea Laboratories
  • Emergency Room
  • Cardiac Catherization Laboratories
  • Respiratory Home Care Companies
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation Departments

A leadership/management rotation has been added to involve students in administrative decision making. In addition, the two credit Advanced Techniques course allows students to further expand their interests in areas such as current trends in Critical Care and Organ Procurement. The team approach to health care involving cooperation with all allied health care providers is promoted. Currently our students rotate through four clinical affiliate hospitals, two homecare companies and one skilled nursing facility to broaden their scope of Respiratory Care. Students are responsible for transportation to and from clinical sites.

Before the Associate Degree

If you are currently a high school student considering a career in Respiratory Care, we recommend your high school curriculum includes science and math courses such as Chemistry, Biology and Algebra.

PLEASE NOTE:  All students seeking a Respiratory Care or Surgical Technology degree MUST SUCCESSFULLY clear a criminal background check, an Act 33/34 clearance, and drug screen before entering the clinical phase of the program.  Failure to do so will prohibit clinical participation and the ability to graduate with a degree in any of these majors.  It is important to note that, to become licensed, many states will inquire as to whether the applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor, a felony or a felonious or illegal act associated with alcohol and/or substance abuse.

Respiratory Care Program Curriculum

First Year-Fall Term
Chem for the Health ProfessionsChem 0190   3 credits 
Chem for the Health Prof Lab Chem 0192   1 credit 
Anatomy & Physiology, LabBio 0950   4 credits 
English Composition IEng 0005  3 credits 
Introduction to Respiratory Care I Resca 0020  3 credits 
University ScholarshipCAS 0001  1 credit
TOTAL 15 credits 
First Year-Spring Term

Anatomy & Physiology / Lab Bio 0970   4 credits 
Respiratory Pharmacology Resca 1022   2 credits 
Respiratory Physiology Resca 1026   3 credits 
Respiratory Pathology Resca 1028   3 credits 
Algebra I Math 0001   3 credits
Selected TopicsResca 1041  3 credits 
TOTAL                           18 CREDITS

First Year-Summer Term
Respiratory Techniques II  Resca 1024    4 credits 
Clinical Practicum I Resca 1030    7 credits 
EKG/ABG Resca 1031    4 credits 
Elective or Intro to Psych ----------   3 credits 
TOTAL    18 credits 

Second Year-Fall Term
Respiratory Care Techniques III Resca 1032   4 credits 
Clinical Practicum II  Resca 1034      8 credits
Elective or Intro to Psych   ----------    3 credits 
Elective or Intro to Psych  ----------    3 credits
TOTAL    18 credits 

Second Year-Spring Term
Clinical Practicum III  Resca 1038  10 credits
Advanced Techniques Resca 1039    2 credits 
Elective or Intro to Psych  ----------    3 credits 
TOTAL    15 credits 

                         TOTAL PROGRAM CREDITS = 84


Employment Outlook

The employment outlook for Respiratory Therapists is very promising due to an ever increasing aged population, and the profession's continued expansion into various speciality fields. Annual starting salaries for Certified Respiratory Therapists range from $39,411 to $55,935*, Registered Respiratory Therapists range from $47,888 to $63,978.*  Most employers offer sign-on incentive bonuses and financial assistance for continuing education.

*, Spring 2012

Specialty areas in Respiratory Care include:

  • Hospitals (Adult and Neonatal/Pediatrics)
  • Research
  • Pulmonary Function Testing
  • Home Care
  • Military
  • Education
  • Cardiovascular Labs
  • Physician's Offices
  • Transport Teams
  • Subacute Care
  • Polysomnography (Sleep Labs)
  • Technical Sales/Equipment Companies

Beyond the Associate Degree

Individuals who complete the requirements for their Associate Degree in Respiratory Care may opt to continue at Pitt-Johnstown to complete the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare.

Last Reviewed: October 7, 2009