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Respiratory Therapy Associate Degree Program

Respiratory Therapy | Los Angeles, OC & Ontario, CA

If you are a hands-on problem solver and enjoy helping others, a career as a Respiratory Therapist could be the path for you! Respiratory Therapists (RTs) play an important role in patient care. 

Looking for the right respiratory therapy program? At ACC, our focus is on your success! Our Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy program can help you graduate with the confidence and the qualifications you need to begin your career as a Respiratory Therapist.

Find a respiratory therapy program near you. Our program is available at two Southern California campuses: Ontario and Anaheim.

Our Respiratory Therapy program can be completed in as little as 20 months.

This program is taught in a blended format combining online classes and in-person instruction.

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"RT is just so rewarding. I get to be right there at patients’ bedside, helping them get through one of the hardest times in their lives."

- Marcel H. '19 Respiratory Therapy Graduate
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Respiratory Therapy Program Overview

The American Career College Respiratory Therapy (RT) program is designed to help you acquire the knowledge and training to evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Respiratory Therapists care for a variety of patients, both young and old, whose lungs are not fully developed or may be diseased.

The Respiratory Therapy Program at ACC offers a combination of classroom, laboratory and clinical studies that will allow you to develop a range of skills relevant to the roles and responsibilities of a Respiratory Therapist, which include the following tasks:

  • Providing emergency care, interviewing patients, performing limited physical examinations and conducting diagnostic tests
  • Determine requirements for treatment including type, duration, method and precautions necessary
  • Executing effective plans and protocols to assist patients so they can breathe comfortably
  • Operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems or aerosol generators

Through the respiratory therapy program, we aim to help you graduate with the confidence and qualifications you need to begin your career as a RT.* After successfully completing the RT program, you will be eligible to sit for the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exams (written and clinical simulation), offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). **

Respiratory Therapy - Program Goals and Outcomes

Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the goals of the program are achieved and determine which program is effective. The Respiratory Therapy (Associate of Occupational Science) programs in Orange County (200554) and Ontario (200566) are programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).** / www.coarc.com

Programmatic outcomes data reported on the (COARC) website include the following data:

  • 3-year time period being reported
  • RRT credentialing success
  • Attrition
  • Job placement
  • Overall graduate satisfaction
  • Overall employer satisfaction
  • Total number of program enrollees
  • Total number of program graduates
  • Maximum annual enrollment

** CoARC accredits respiratory therapy education programs in the United States. To achieve this end, it utilizes an ‘outcomes based’ process. Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the educational goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented. CoArc Website

Tuition

Our admissions advisors and financial aid advisors are here to support you. They can help you figure out the respiratory therapy school cost and help you explore financial aid options.

To learn more about ACC’s Respiratory Therapy program cost, access our tuition info.

Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.

Find a respiratory therapy school near youOur accredited Respiratory Therapy training program is available at two of our Southern California campuses:

Careers After I Graduate

Respiratory Therapists generally work in hospitals, clinical settings, sleep disorder clinics, Physicians’ offices, or rehabilitation centers.1 Successful completion of the American Career College Respiratory Therapy program requires clinical experience, where you may work with patients who have a variety of ailments and conditions that prohibit their cardiopulmonary system from working correctly.

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. 

A few interesting facts2 about respiratory therapy careers:

  • 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.
  • Many Respiratory Therapists belong to professional societies such as the California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) and the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), which provide their members with various benefits and services, including continuing education opportunities and products and services related to the profession.2

1California Employment Development Department OCC Guide, Respiratory Therapists in California

2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Respiratory Therapists

What Will I Learn?

The curriculum in the Respiratory Therapy program is divided into eight, 10-week quarters. Students will begin with general education, anatomy and physiology, and core respiratory therapy and conclude with clinical practicum courses.

Clinical experience in an appropriate hospital or clinical setting is required for successful completion of the school's program. These clinical rotations, which begin in quarter five, comprise a total of 960 hours.

Respiratory Therapy core courses include the following:

  • Respiratory Procedures I– This course introduces students to basic respiratory care treatments and support modalities; set up, use and troubleshooting of equipment; concepts related to the therapeutic administration of oxygen & aerosol therapy in respiratory care and concepts & techniques surrounding sampling and proper handling and transport of arterial blood gases. Focus is placed on adherence to techniques ensuring appropriate infection control practices and patient safety. Students will learn to conduct physical and clinical exams and patient assessments to determine and develop appropriate and effective treatment plans.
  • Neonatal/ Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology – This course is a study of fetal development of the cardiopulmonary system, respiratory care of neonatal and pediatric patients, as well as causes and treatment of respiratory illnesses. Students will gain an understanding of patient evaluation, monitoring and therapeutic modalities seen with common neonatal and pediatric disorders, including respiratory distress syndrome, intracranial hemorrhage, pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, common respiratory infections in the infant and pediatric population and pediatric trauma.
  • 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 locating and appropriately collecting patient data from the medical record.

 Other core courses in this program include the following:

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

What Will I Do as a Respiratory Therapist?

You’ll be on your way to helping others!

Respiratory therapists treat and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Our Career Services team will provide you with resources, support, and personalized assistance during your job search. 

As an entry-level Respiratory Therapist, day-to-day responsibilities may include the following*:

  • Enter, transcribe, record and store patient information
  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, and environmental control systems
  • Provide emergency care, including artificial respiration, external cardiac massage and assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, and medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders
  • Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, and blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to manage patient care
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information
  • Inspect, clean, test and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises and the use of medications and respiratory equipment

*California Employment Development Department OCC Guide, Respiratory Therapists in California

FAQs

A Day in the Life of a Respiratory Therapist

As a Respiratory Therapist, you'll work closely with individuals suffering from breathing and cardiac disorders. You'll work in a lab, nursing home or other setting to evaluate and treat patients with breathing problems including providing life-saving measures and improving quality of life.

Here are some things you may do:

  • Monitor response to respiratory therapies by checking their vitals
  • Provide temporary relief to patients with asthma or emphysema
  • Perform emergency assistance to victims of heart attack, stroke, drowning or shock
  • Teach patients and families how to operate ventilators or other life-support equipment
What Will I Be Trained to Do as a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory therapists treat and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Students in our respiratory therapy program will be trained to do the following:

  • Conduct interviews and perform limited physical examinations
  • Treat patients using tools such as oxygen, chest physiotherapy, and aerosol medication
  • Place oxygen mask or nasal cannula when needed
  • Assess patients and equipment, making adjustments as necessary1

1California Employment Development Department Detailed Guide, Respiratory Therapists in California

Am I a Good Fit for the Respiratory Therapist Program?

If you love working with technical equipment and enjoy working directly with people, our respiratory therapist program might be right for you.

Here are some of the top skills and attributes that make for a great respiratory therapist:

Active listening – A top skill for respiratory therapists is being able to listen and understand the needs of each patient.

Service orientation – A great respiratory therapist is one with a passion for helping patients and for providing the best care possible.

Instructing – Respiratory therapists educate patients and their families on their conditions and the use or respiratory equipment. They should be able to explain things in a way that patients are able to understand.

Operations monitoring – Respiratory therapists should be able to monitor any relevant machinery, including watching gauges, dials, or other indicators.

Quality control – Respiratory therapists inspect, clean, test, and maintain equipment. Good quality control skills can help them ensure they are always providing treatment using well-maintained equipment.

Where Can I Work as a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory therapists can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Nursing care facilities1

1California Employment Development Department Detailed Guide, Respiratory Therapists in California

What Will I Learn in the Respiratory Therapist Program?

The curriculum in the Respiratory Therapy program is divided into eight, 10-week quarters. Students will begin with general education, anatomy and physiology, and core respiratory therapy and conclude with clinical practicum courses.

Clinical experience in an appropriate hospital or clinical setting is required for successful completion of the school's program. These clinical rotations, which begin in quarter five, comprise a total of 960 hours.

Respiratory Therapy core courses include the following:

Respiratory Procedures I– This course introduces students to basic respiratory care treatments and support modalities; set up, use and troubleshooting of equipment; concepts related to the therapeutic administration of oxygen & aerosol therapy in respiratory care and concepts & techniques surrounding sampling and proper handling and transport of arterial blood gases. Focus is placed on adherence to techniques ensuring appropriate infection control practices and patient safety. Students will learn to conduct physical and clinical exams and patient assessments to determine and develop appropriate and effective treatment plans.

Neonatal/ Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology – This course is a study of fetal development of the cardiopulmonary system, respiratory care of neonatal and pediatric patients, as well as causes and treatment of respiratory illnesses. Students will gain an understanding of patient evaluation, monitoring and therapeutic modalities seen with common neonatal and pediatric disorders, including respiratory distress syndrome, intracranial hemorrhage, pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, common respiratory infections in the infant and pediatric population and pediatric trauma.

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 locating and appropriately collecting patient data from the medical record.

For a complete description of coursework in these modules, please refer to the ACC Catalog.

How Long Will It Take to Get my Degree in Respiratory Therapy?

Students can earn their degree to become a respiratory therapist in as little as 20 months.

How Much is Tuition for the Respiratory Therapy Program?

Our admissions advisors and financial aid advisors are here to support you. They can help you figure out the respiratory therapist school cost and help you explore financial aid options.

To learn more about ACC’s Respiratory Therapy program cost, access our tuition info.

Is Financial Aid Available for the Respiratory Therapy Program?

Yes, financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.

Will I Get Real-World Training?

Yes! ACC's respiratory therapy program includes over 700 hours of clinicals which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate and reinforce the knowledge and skills they acquired learning hands-on throughout the training program.

Want more details about the Respiratory Therapy Program?

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