Apr 24, 2024  
Catalog 2009-2010 
Catalog 2009-2010 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Respiratory Care, A.S.

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program: AS-25580

The purpose of the Respiratory Care Program is to prepare outstanding advanced-level respiratory therapists (RTs) to meet the dynamic health care needs of the community. Respiratory Care is a career oriented program which consists of classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences. The program is a two-year curriculum that offers an Associate of Science degree in Respiratory Care. Upon successful completion of the licensure exam, the candidate is able to participate in a rewarding career working with individuals who may have a variety of lung and/or heart disorders.

Respiratory therapists (RTs) specialize in the evaluation, treatment, and care of patients with heart and lung problems. The RT works within the scope of physicians’ orders and/or established protocols to administer respiratory therapy to patients with  chronic illness (such as asthma or emphysema), as well as acute illness (such as drowning, heart failure, or shock). The RT is a member of the hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Arrest Team and is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the patient’s airway as well as the life support equipment. The RT works with some of the most sophisticated machinery and medically frail patients present in health care today. The majority of respiratory therapists work in hospitals in Respiratory or Cardiopulmonary Departments. Critical thinking, patient/environment assessment skills, and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines enable respiratory therapists to develop and implement effective care plans, patient-driven protocols, and disease prevention and disease management programs. The RT can specialize in areas such as neonatal care, pediatrics, critical care, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Other career opportunities are available in physicians’ offices, home care, education, sales and consulting.

The Respiratory Care Program is a limited admission program. The Respiratory Care Program consists of 76 credit hours and awards the Associate in Science in Respiratory Care upon successful completion. As a selective admission program, each applicant must first be admitted to the College and meet pre-admission requirements. Applicants are selected each year to begin the program in the fall semester. The College reserves the right to change the program and its requirements as needed.

The Respiratory Care Program requires a full-time commitment throughout the year, including a summer term during the first year. Due to clinical and specific courses required in the program, the student is encouraged to complete the majority of required science courses before entering the program. Most courses are offered Monday through Friday. Clinical experiences are integral to the Respiratory Care Program. The clinical assignments will be in area health care facilities and may be assigned a day shift (6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) or an evening shift (2:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.). The Respiratory Care lecture and lab courses are offered on the Lakeland campus.


The Respiratory Care Program has completed the first process for initial accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Information on CAAHEP and CoARC can be obtained at: Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, 35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1970, Chicago, Illinois 60601-2208; telephone number: 312-553-9355; and the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, 1248 Harwood Road, Bedford, Texas 76021-4244; telephone: 817-283-2835.

Admission Criteria

The following are the minimum requirements for application:

  1. Prospective students must gain acceptance to PSC as degree-seeking students with all required admission documents received by the Registrar’s Office. Applicants must achieve the state standards for placement at the college level on the College Level Placement Test (CPT) or accepted equivalents.
  2. Students must complete any required college preparatory courses.
  3. Students must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher at the time of application and admission to the program.
  4. The following prerequisite course work must be in progress (or completed) at the time of application, and a grade of “C” or better must be attained in each course:

  or higher

  1. Students must submit a complete and accurate Allied Health Application to the Respiratory Care Program Director.
  2. Respiratory Care is a limited admission program. The program uses a selective admission process. Those applicants with the best qualifications, as defined in the selection criteria, and who comply with all other pre-admission procedures and requirements may be admitted into the program.
  3. The students selected for the Respiratory Care Program will enter the program in the fall (Term I) of the year.

Selection Criteria

All eligible applicants will be considered for the Respiratory Care Program. The most qualified applicants will be selected based upon current enrollment, completed coursework, and cumulative grade point average in prerequisite courses, program courses, and previous course work. The Respiratory Care Program selection committee may utilize members of the Polk State College (PSC) Respiratory Care Advisory Board. The Advisory Board consists of various employers of respiratory therapists including several hospital Respiratory Care directors.

Additional Program Requirements

Admission requirements that must be completed after the selection process has been finalized in order to remain enrolled in the program include:

  1. Physical examination and essential functions
  2. Immunizations and communicable disease screenings
  3. Current CPR Certification for Healthcare Providers
  4. Signed affidavit attesting to non-committance of specific criminal acts
  5. Drug screening
  6. Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) background checks

The Respiratory Care Program provides information regarding the completion of these additional admission requirements with the acceptance letter. Applicants with a specific conviction or a positive drug screening may not be accepted into the Respiratory
Care Program. Positive drug screenings and specific conviction histories occurring after full admission and matriculation in the program will be addressed by the Department policy and may include dismissal from the program.

Program Cost

The approximate cost of the program is $8,000. This cost includes course fees, books, and uniforms. A complete list of fees is included with the application.

Potential Earnings

Registered Respiratory Therapists can expect a beginning pay of approximately $40,000-$50,000. Job openings are in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, home care, physicians’ offices, sales and consulting.

Examination and Florida Licensure

Graduates of the Respiratory Care Program are required to take the entry-level examination administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC). Upon passing the NBRC entry-level exam, the graduate will be granted the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential by the NBRC. The CRT applies to the Florida Department of Health/Board of Respiratory Care and allows the individual become licensed under Florida Statute, Chapter 468 and accompanying rules and amendments. The CRT, upon receiving state licensure, is able to seek employment.

Once graduates have passed the entry-level examination, they are eligible to take the NBRC written registry and clinical simulation examinations. Upon passing both parts of the registry exam, the RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) credential is obtained. After notification of this credential is sent to the Florida Department of Health and completion of the application process, licensure as a Registered Respiratory Therapist in the state of Florida is granted.

The Florida Department of Health/Board of Respiratory Care is thorough in its requirements and background investigations associated with the licensure process. The Department of Health/Board of Respiratory Care has the authority to deny licensure to applicants with a conviction for any offense other than a minor traffic violation.

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