Respiratory care is the allied health profession devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients with diseases of the respiratory system. Respiratory therapists must have a thorough understanding of normal pulmonary anatomy and physiology and of the pathology and treatment of various breathing-related disorders. They work in adult and pediatric hospitals, in some nursing homes, and for a growing number of home-care companies. With the authorization of a healthcare provider, they give aerosolized medications and various special breathing treatments to patients with acute or chronic pulmonary disease. Respiratory therapists are life-support specialists, setting up artificial ventilators for patients of all ages who cannot breathe for themselves. When a cardiac arrest occurs in the hospital, respiratory therapists provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation and manual ventilation. With sophisticated equipment, they measure the effectiveness of breathing and levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Following recognized protocols or authorized orders, they institute therapies to reduce the work of breathing and to improve ventilation and oxygenation.
The professional program is six semesters long. Besides didactic, lab, and clinical training in basic respiratory care, the first professional year includes courses in microbiology and anatomy/physiology. The second professional year focuses on more advanced or specialized modalities of respiratory care. The third professional year includes courses necessary to develop an informed, broadly educated healthcare professional. To provide experience with patients, the program has clinical affiliations with hospitals in the northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati area. Successful completion of the program leads to the Bachelor of Science and to eligibility for the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) credentialing examinations given by the National Board for Respiratory Care. After passing the TMC exam, the graduate is eligible for a Kentucky Mandatory Certificate, an Ohio Respiratory Care Professional License, or licensure in another state.
Four-Year Plan: Click here to view the Four-Year Plan for this specific program. To find out more about Four-Year Plans, visit the Policies and Procedures page.
Special admission requirements: The respiratory care program admits students each fall through a selective admission process. Once applicants have regular admission to NKU, they will be considered for the professional RSP courses if these criteria are met:
- Complete a program application form.
- Possess a GPA of 2.30 or higher on previous college coursework, assuming a 4.0 scale.
- Completion of CHE 115 /CHE 115L (with a C or higher).
- Completion of general education courses in the “written I” and “oral” parts of the communication category.
- Completion of BIO 208 /BIO 208L with a grade of C or higher.
- Completion of STA 205 with a grade of C or higher.
- Completion of HSC 101 with a grade of C or higher.
- Successful completion of a criminal background check prior to final acceptance into the program.
Applications completed prior to February 15 are given priority. Conditional acceptance into the program can be given to students enrolled in any prerequisite course by the priority application date of February 15. Successful completion of these courses must be documented at the end of the term for final program admission. Students will be notified of their admission status in writing. Students who want to major in respiratory care but do not yet meet the above criteria should declare pre-respiratory care (XRSP) as their major, apply for acceptance into the program, and follow the advice of their respiratory care faculty advisor. Many students take prerequisites, general education, and science requirements before starting the professional RSP course sequence. Students must also fulfill the immunization requirements listed on the respiratory care program immunization form and described in the respiratory care program student handbook before they are given hospital clinical assignments, a required part of the curriculum.
Student criminal background check: Healthcare agencies are charged with providing care and protecting the safety of vulnerable populations including children and the aged. Agencies used for clinical placement require students to undergo criminal background checks and may deny clinical access to those convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors. Conviction of these offenses may result in a student’s denial of admission to, or dismissal from, the College of Health Professions. Applicants are required to submit to criminal background checks as identified by the College of Health Professions as part of the application process. The cost of this and any subsequent screening will be borne by the student. The student is responsible for notifying the College of Health Professions of any change in the status of this record after starting the program. Note that successful completion of a criminal background check does not ensure eligibility for certification, licensure, or future employment. All students must be physically free of illegal drugs and alcohol. Drug testing may be required by specific clinical sites at the student’s expense. Failure of a drug test my result in program dismissal.
Technical standards: Candidates eligible for the respiratory care program must be able to meet the following technical standards. These standards specify skills necessary for successful completion of the program and subsequent employment as a respiratory care practitioner.*
||Some Examples of Necessary Activities (not all inclusive)
||Critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment.
||Identify cause-effect relationships in clinical situations, develop respiratory care plans.
||Communication abilities sufficient for interaction with others in oral and written forms.
||Explain treatment procedures, initiate health teaching, document and interpret therapeutic procedures and patient/client responses.
||Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
||Establish rapport with patients and colleagues from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
||Physical abilities sufficient to move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces.
||Move around in patients’ rooms, work spaces, and treatment areas; administer cardiopulmonary procedures.
||Gross and fine motor abilities sufficient to provide safe and effective respiratory care.
||Calibrate and use equipment; position patients/clients.
||Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and assess health needs.
||Hear monitor alarms, emergency signals, and auscultatory sounds.
||Visual ability sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in respiratory care.
||Observe patient/client responses; able to differentiate color.
||Tactile ability sufficient for physical assessment.
||Perform palpation, functions of physical examination and those related to therapeutic intervention (for example,
insertion of a catheter).
*Students with disabilities should declare the disability and provide verification to the Office of Disability Services so reasonable accommodations can be made.
Progression: A student must achieve a grade of at least C in each respiratory care course, as well as in each science course and required courses for the major, in order to continue in the program. Accurate knowledge of chemistry and human anatomy and physiology is essential for the effective application of respiratory therapy. For this reason, the required science courses must be taken before or during the semester in which they are listed in the program curriculum. Failure to meet this requirement will result in failure to progress in the program. Science courses older than seven years or with grades lower than C will not be recognized as fulfilling program requirements
Assessment of Major: In the sixth term, as part of “ RSP 480 Respiratory Care Seminar (3 credits) ” students as a group must take the TMC self-assessment examinations from the National Board for Respiratory Care. The examinations (1) give students the opportunity to demonstrate a synthesis of knowledge about respiratory care, (2) help students prepare for the actual TMC examination, and (3) provide group examination performance information for program self-evaluation as required for accreditation.
You should also know: The respiratory care program is a full-time, daytime program. The schedule is challenging with classes and clinical activities each day plus out-of-class/clinical assignments. The time frame is demanding, and any work outside of the program needs to be both flexible and limited in hours per week in order for the student to be successful in the respiratory care program.
♦ Indicates prerequisite.