Home > Blog > Associate’s vs Bachelor’s in Respiratory Therapy: Do You Need an Advanced Degree?
by SJVC on July 3, 2018 · 9:00 am
To ensure the respiratory therapy workforce is prepared to meet the growing challenges and demands it will face in terms of protocol-driven care and disease management, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) has called for 80% of RTs to either hold or be working toward a bachelor’s degree by the year 2020. Recently, the AARC has even suggested that all new RT programs should award, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care. In a statement, the AARC explained the proposed shift in RT education requirements:
“The continually expanding knowledge base of today’s respiratory care field requires a more highly educated professional than ever before. Factors such as increased emphasis on evidence-based medicine, focus on respiratory disease management, demands for advanced patient assessment, and growing complexities of American healthcare overall, clearly mandate that respiratory therapists achieve formal academic preparation commensurate with an advanced practice role.”
If you have your associate’s degree in respiratory therapy, you may be wondering how a bachelor’s degree compares and if it is really worth it to go back to school for an advanced RT degree.
An associate’s degree is the minimum educational requirement to practice as a respiratory therapist, but, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “employers often prefer that applicants possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree [in respiratory therapy] from a post-graduate program.” In fact, according to statewide surveys by the Health Workforce Initiative (HWI) and the California Hospital Association (CHA), almost a quarter of hospitals in California (225) require respiratory therapists to have a bachelor’s degree. In other words, while you can practice with only an associate’s degree, having a bachelor’s degree may open even more opportunities.
Considering the shift in education standards and requirements for respiratory therapists, aspiring RTs and practicing therapists shouldn’t think about how associate’s and bachelor’s degrees compare but rather how they complement one another.
According to Jeff Rutherford, Campus President and RT Program Director at SJVC Rancho Cordova, “the bachelor’s program is taking a licensed practitioner to the next level where they learn the skills they need to be a supervisor or manager and be a much more productive practitioner in the managerial, supervisorial and quality assurance aspect for a department.”
SJVC’s online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) degree completion program builds on the clinical skills RRTs gained at the associate’s level, but also focuses on the knowledge and skills required to move the profession (and your career) forward.
What does this mean for you?
According to a recent life satisfaction study of respiratory therapists who had graduated and earned their bachelor’s degree in respiratory care, most participants felt that their degree has helped them to achieve more rapid advancement into critical care areas and supervision. Is a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy worth it? Consider the following responses from study participants:
If you’re ready to invest in your future, San Joaquin Valley College can help. Our online BSRT bridge program allows you to take the next educational step without putting your life on hold. If you are a Registered Respiratory Therapist, find out how easy it is to turn your associate’s degree into a bachelor’s. Request additional information or call 855-667-9557 to learn about the online BSRT program.
Posted in Respiratory Therapy / Respiratory Therapy Bachelor's Degree