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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

What’s It Like to Complete a RT Degree Bridge Program Online?

June 12, 2018

Student in BSRT online program working on computer and taking notes

If you want to advance your RT career, going back to school to earn your Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) can help you gain the knowledge, skills and experience needed to move up the career ladder. And there’s good news for busy RRTs: Online bachelor’s completion programs allow you to earn your degree without putting your life on hold.

Why a bachelor’s degree, and why now? According to Jeff Rutherford, Campus President of SJVC Rancho Cordova, “The BSRT program is a degree completion program intended for students who are already practicing respiratory therapists. It takes a licensed practitioner to the next level and provides them [with] the skills they need to be a supervisor, manager and overall a much more productive member of their respiratory therapy department.”

Kathryn Broshar, a student in SJVC’s online BSRT program, explains why she decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree: “I’m not quite sure if I want to head into management someday, but this gives me the ability if I choose to go that route.” The career benefits of having a bachelor’s degree were also on the mind of Julia Foss. A Respiratory Care Practitioner as well as an RT instructor at SJVC’s Rancho Cordova campus, Julia knew that going back to school was important if she wanted to continue doing what she loves most — preparing the next generation of respiratory therapists. “I’ve been a full-time RT instructor for eight years and I love it, and I want to continue doing it,” Julia says, “but only having an associate degree was going to limit my ability at some point in the very near future.”

So, what’s it really like to complete an RT bridge program online?

Earning Your BSRT Online is Easier Than You Think

If you’ve only ever taken classes in person, you might have concerns about earning your bachelor’s degree online. You’re not alone in thinking this, but you may also be surprised to learn that it’s a lot easier than you might think.  “I think students who have never been in an online environment think it’s going to be difficult,” says Jeff Rutherford, “but then they realize there is a very regimented routine, so it’s actually very predictable: You know when assignments are due, you know what deliverables are coming up, and you know how much time it’s going to take to complete everything, so it becomes a lot easier than most students initially think.”

For a lot of RRTs thinking about going back to school to earn their bachelor’s degree, the worry about online classes is usually related to the experience itself. That’s what worried Julia at first. “I wasn’t concerned about the program per se,” she says, “but I graduated from RT school almost 30 years ago and I’m a very hands-on learner, so I was a little concerned in the beginning because I didn’t know what the online environment would be like. But now that I’m in it, I couldn’t imagine taking the program on-ground. I’ve adjusted very well and now that I’m here, it’s the only way I would recommend doing it.”

Advantages of an Online BSRT Program

One of the reasons online BSRT programs can actually be easier than traditional on-ground programs is because they are designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working RRTs. “We are working therapists,” says Kathryn, “and the online program gives us the flexibility to continue working however many jobs we have.” Julia agrees; in fact, that was one of the biggest reasons she decided to enroll. “My big question when I was looking at programs was, are there any on-campus requirements,” she says, “because if there were, I wasn’t interested. I wanted to be able to do it all online, around my schedule, whenever it was going to fit in with the time I had.”

SJVC’s online BSRT program is particularly well-suited for practicing RRTs. Each five-week course is structured so that students know exactly what’s coming up. “During each five-week course,” Julia explains, “the due dates are the same, so I can go through each week and see what the assignments are, what the expectations are, what the workload is like—that makes it incredibly easy for me to plan everything out so I can stay on top of what needs to get done.”

Online BSRT Offers a Collaborative Environment

Another misconception about going to school online is that it’s a solo experience. In fact, the online learning environment allows for potentially even more interaction between students and instructors, especially for more “reserved” students who might prefer emails and discussion forums to face-to-face conversations. “We designed the program to be a collaborative experience for our students,” Jeff explains. “Within the weekly discussion questions, for example, students interact with their cohort colleagues and sometimes create more questions, making it a truly immersive and collaborative experience. Students are very much involved with each other, they just don’t necessarily see one another.”

Take the Next Step in Your RRT Career

Going back to school to complete your Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy is an investment in yourself, your career and your future — online just makes it easier to access for most RRTs. If you’re considering advancing your degree, SJVC’s online BSRT program could be right for you. Request more information or call 855-667-9557 if you have any questions about our online respiratory therapy bachelor program.

Respiratory Therapist Career Guide

Learn all about how to become a respiratory therapist and why you should advance your degree.

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