Respiratory Care

Learn Respiratory Therapy at JCCC

Advances in technology and training are allowing respiratory therapists to take on more patient-care responsibility, acting as a physician extender in the growing field of respiratory care.

JCCC offers an associate of applied science degree in respiratory care. The 71-to 76-credit hour advanced program prepares students for the National Board for Respiratory Care entry-level examination to earn the certified respiratory therapist (CRT) credential.

Graduates are then eligible to take an additional advanced-level exam that will earn them the registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential.

From there, respiratory therapists can work for various health care providers – acute-care hospitals, rehabilitative hospitals, children’s hospitals, skilled-care facilities and doctor’s offices, for example – or they may transfer to a four-year university for a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care.

“Respiratory therapists are somewhat of a hybrid between nurses and paramedics,” said Renee Portmann, director, respiratory care and polysomnography. “They are a cleverly kept secret, really. They respond to all emergencies within a hospital, work in all parts of the hospital, and each day is different.”

The goal of a respiratory therapist is to assure that patients are able to breathe and that a proper amount of oxygen reaches the brain and body tissues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an increasing number of people are battling asthma, which is a respiratory condition. (Diagnosed cases grew by 4.3 million from 2001 to 2009. One in 12 people now has asthma.) The number of respiratory therapists to provide care and education to asthma patients must grow, too, Portmann said.

“Respiratory therapists are employed by physician’s offices to teach children about asthma, and recently these therapists have gone into schools to teach not only kids who have asthma, but also the other children as well, so they won’t be afraid, and they’ll know what to do to help the child with asthma,” Portmann said.

Portmann said many of the students who join the respiratory care program have had a history with someone who has respiratory issues. The background is useful, but not necessary, she explained. All respiratory care students utilize the Healthcare Simulation Center. There, students can use computerized patient simulators to practice breathing treatments and other skills, she said, to build the experiences they’ll need to treat patients effectively.

The career of respiratory therapy is well suited to self-starters who are “adrenaline junkies” and also want to be caregivers and patient advocates, Portmann said.

The college has a cooperative agreement with Metropolitan Community Colleges to offer its students enrollment in the respiratory care program at JCCC, so the program’s reach extends across the Kansas City area.

With National Board pass rates well above the national average and excellent job placement, respiratory therapy may be the career for you.

For more information about the respiratory care program at JCCC, email Portmann or call 913-469-2583.