Respiratory Therapy Program

Respiratory Therapy | Los Angeles, OC & Ontario, CA

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers prefer to hire respiratory therapists who have certification. Certification is not always required, but it is widely respected throughout the occupation. Certification usually requires graduating from an accredited program and passing a certification exam and is often required in order to get a state license. Employment of Respiratory Therapists is expected to grow by 17.7 percent from 2012 to 2022 (California Employment Development Department).

As of January 1, 2015 the California Board of Respiratory Care requires graduates to have a minimum of a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential to work in California. To obtain the RRT credential, graduates are required to take and pass the TMC exam and score in the higher cut score resulting in the CRT credential and then will be eligible to take the CSE exam. Graduates must pass the CSE exam in order to become an RRT in California.

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"I completed four years of college and graduated as a History major, but I couldn't seem to find a job that was secure. I knew the medical profession was so I researched a few places and picked American Career College. It was the best fit."

Juan S. Respiratory Therapy Graduate
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Respiratory Therapy Overview

The ACC Respiratory Therapy program is designed to help you acquire the knowledge and training to evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders, from infants whose lungs are not fully developed to the elderly whose lungs are diseased.

Through a combination of classroom, laboratory and clinical studies, you will develop a range of skills relevant to the roles and responsibilities of a respiratory therapist, including:

  • Interviewing patients, performing limited physical examinations and conducting diagnostic tests
  • Executing effective plans and protocols to assist patients so they can breathe comfortably
  • Understanding anatomy, physiology and other sciences
  • And many other important responsibilities

The focus is on your success!

The goal of our Respiratory Therapy program is to prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).*

*ACC cannot guarantee employment.

The Respiratory Therapy (Associate of Occupational Science) programs in Orange County and Ontario are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). CoARC 1248 Harwood Road, Bedford, TX 76021-4244; Phone (817) 283-2835 / Fax (817) 510-1063 /

Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented. Programmatic outcomes data reported on the CoARC website ( include:

  • 3-year time period being reported;
  • CRT credentialing success;
  • RRT credentialing success;
  • Attrition;
  • Job placement;
  • Overall Graduate Satisfaction;
  • Overall Employer Satisfaction;
  • On-time Graduation Rate;
  • Total number of program enrollees;
  • Total number of program graduates;
  • Maximum Annual Enrollment.

The Respiratory Therapy program is available at the following campuses:

Careers After I Graduate

Respiratory therapists generally work in hospitals or other clinical settings. Successful completion of the ACC Respiratory Therapy program requires clinical experience, where you will work with patients who have a variety of ailments and conditions that prohibit their cardiopulmonary system from working correctly.

After completing ACC's career-focused Associate of Occupational Science degree, you can expect to qualify for entry-level positions and be ready to interview for employment at:

  • Hospitals
  • Sleep Disorder Clinics
  • Diagnostic Laboratories
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • In-Home Care Providers
  • Physicians' Offices
  • Critical Care Transport Providers

A few interesting statistics* about respiratory therapy careers:

  • Employment of Respiratory Therapists is expected to grow by 17.7 percent from 2012 to 2022 (California Employment Development Department).
  • Conditions affecting the general population, such as smoking, air pollution and respiratory emergencies, will continue to create demand for respiratory therapists.
  • Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased number of respiratory conditions, resulting in an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals and nursing homes.

A few places where graduates from various ACC programs have been hired:

Many area employers are very familiar with the quality of ACC's health care training programs and our school's track record for preparing confident, qualified professionals for rewarding careers. Our graduates have been hired by:

  • American Red Cross
  • Cedars Sinai
  • UCI Medical Center
  • Glendale Memorial
  • Good Samaritan
  • Hollywood Presbyterian
  • Huntington Memorial
  • Irvine Regional Medical Center
  • Little Company of Mary
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • St. Joseph Hospital
  • St. Jude Hospital
  • St. Francis Hospital
  • St. John's Medical Group
  • Shriners Hospital for Children
  • USC
  • Harbor UCLA Medical Center
  • Hoag Hospital
  • Lenscrafters
  • Newport Dental
  • Pearle Vision Care
  • SmileCare Family Dentistry
  • CVS
  • Pharmerica
  • RiteAid
  • RxRelief
  • Aetna Healthcare
  • BlueCross
  • United Healthcare
  • U.S. Healthworks


What Will I Learn

This curriculum is divided into eight 10-week quarters consisting of general education, anatomy and physiology, core respiratory therapy and clinical practicum courses. Clinical experience, which occurs in an appropriate hospital or clinical setting, is also required for successful completion of the program. These clinical rotations, which begin in quarter five, comprise a total of 960 hours. In addition to general education courses, core courses in ACC's Respiratory Therapy program include:

  • Respiratory Procedures I – This course introduces students to non-invasive respiratory care treatments and support modalities and set up, use and troubleshooting required equipment. Focus is placed on achieving an understanding the application of specific modalities to clinical scenarios, assessment of the effectiveness of treatment, development of treatment plans and the operating principles of the equipment used to provide therapy.
  • Cardiopulmonary Diagnostic Testing – In this course, you will study pulmonary diagnostic testing techniques & interpretation for procedures occurring in the PFT laboratory, at the bedside as well as imaging studies such as CT, MRI and V/Q. Focus will be placed on how information from PFT tests is used to determine the presence, extent and progression of lung disease and abnormality.
  • Neonatal/Pediatric Ventilation – Lab – In the laboratory component of this course, you will be introduced to ventilator management of the neonatal and pediatric patient. Set-up, testing and troubleshooting of various devices for positive pressure ventilation are addressed, as are initiation, management and discontinuation of ventilator support.
  • Critical Care Monitoring – In this course, you will study critical care monitoring of particular patient populations, such as open-heart and pediatric patients, hemodynamic monitoring, ventilator waveform analysis and capnography. Proper reading of monitors, accurate interpretation of readings, strengths and shortcomings of various hemodynamic monitoring modalities will be discussed.
  • Respiratory Care Review – This course is intended as a final preparation for graduation and attempting the NBRC board exams (both CRT and RRT exams). You will review subject matter in all major core areas of the respiratory care program. By the end of this course, all students must take and pass the written SAE for both the CRT and RRT exams and pass the required number of Clinical Simulations from the registry exam SAE.
  • Clinical Practicum I – This course is an introduction to the clinical environment. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills of patient assessment, observation, modification of therapy, development of patient care plans and documentation to the patient care record. You will complete a minimum of five chart reviews by the end of this practicum in order to demonstrate with locating and appropriately collecting patient data from the medical record.

Other core courses in this program include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Career Advantage
  • Medical Terminology
  • Cardiopulmonary Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Gas Therapy
  • Medical Gas Therapy - Lab
  • Respiratory Procedures I - Lab
  • Respiratory Pharmacology
  • Respiratory Pharmacology - Lab
  • Adult Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology
  • Respiratory Procedures II
  • Respiratory Procedures II - Lab
  • Intro to Clinical Practicum
  • Intro to Clinical Practicum - Lab
  • Cardiopulmonary Diagnostic Testing - Lab
  • Rehab and Home Health in Respiratory Care
  • Mechanical Ventilation I
  • Mechanical Ventilation I - Lab
  • Neonatal / Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology
  • Neonatal / Pediatric Ventilation
  • Advanced Ventilation Concepts
  • Clinical Practicum II
  • Clinical Practicum III
  • Clinical Practicum IV

What Will I Do as a Respiratory Therapist

Once you have completed your ACC training and earned your associate degree, you'll be ready to pursue exciting career opportunities. As an entry-level respiratory therapist, your day-to-day responsibilities* may include:

  • Providing emotional support to patients undergoing treatment and being sympathetic to their needs
  • Ensuring patients receive appropriate treatments and medications in a timely manner
  • Monitoring and recording various pieces of information related to patient care
  • Evaluating patients' symptoms, consulting with other health care professionals and recommending and administering the appropriate treatments
  • Calculating the right dose of a patient's medicine
  • Performing diagnostic tests such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treating patients using a variety of methods, including chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications
  • Monitoring and recording the progress of treatment
  • Supervising respiratory therapy technicians during tests and evaluating the findings of the tests
  • Teaching patients how to use treatments
  • Following instructions from a supervising physician

You'll be on your way!
As you begin your career as a respiratory therapist, the ongoing development of your skills can create increased opportunities for advancement. Even after you are employed, ACC's Career Services team will remain committed to providing you with the resources, support and personalized assistance you need to keep your career on the fast track.

* Source:

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