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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC celebrates first graduating class from Online BSRT program

January 22, 2019

28 students from SJVC’s online Respiratory Therapy Bachelor of Science degree completion (BSRT) program recently made it to the finish line – many of them with honors. SJVC is proud of this first graduating class from the online BSRT program, which launched in June 2017.

“They are an exceptional group of students,” says Justin Halligan, Online Dean of Student Services. “They were diligent, on top of it and eager to learn. An incredibly self-sufficient group, most of them ended up on the Dean’s List and graduated with honors.”

The online BSRT program was in development for several years as SJVC’s first Bachelor’s degree completion program, and steered by SJVC’s leadership and academic team toward this moment of success.

“The online modality is a perfect fit for BS level students,” says Pat Fox, Corporate Director of eLearning Curriculum, Instruction and Student Services. “They had already worked through all the pain points of going back to school and have shown they are capable students by finishing their Associate’s degree [prior to enrolling in the online BSRT program]. So, while there is a learning curve for online, the trade-off is the immense convenience of anywhere-anytime course availability.”

Once introduced to the public, the new online BSRT program gained immediate interest – especially among working Registered Respiratory Therapists who had earned their Associate’s degrees in Respiratory Therapy at one of SJVC’s campuses. In fact, 24 of the 28 students to enroll came from five SJVC campuses. Only two BSRT students lived outside of California.

Interest is high and enrollment energetic. Currently, 128 students from 28 states are in the program’s cyber classes, working toward their bachelor’s degree and enjoying SJVC’s ambitious curriculum. 53 of those 128 BSRT students are from 27 states other than California, and the program enjoys 55 SJVC alumni.

There are a lot of good reasons for the push to get into this program. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that the demand for respiratory therapists is projected to grow 20 percent between 2012 and 2025, and that while an associate’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for Respiratory Therapy, “employers [are] often preferring that applicants possess a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from a post-graduate program.”

“There is a Respiratory Therapy industry push to raise the bar of educational requirements for RTs, and since there aren’t many Bachelor’s level programs out there – and even fewer online – it was the perfect opportunity,” says Fox. “There was already some pent-up market demand among our own graduates for opportunities to continue their education.”

SJVC’s criteria for enrollment in the online BSRT program is exact and attracts those who are already accomplished and performing well in their careers:

  • Hold an Associate of Science degree in Respiratory Care, awarded by a regionally or nationally accredited institution with a Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited program
  • Successful completion of a minimum of 70.0 units of lower-division courses (may include lower division respiratory care coursework)
  • Hold a current unencumbered credential licensure as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), and current unencumbered licensure as a Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) in California or in the state of current employment

Respiratory Therapists carry a lot of patient responsibility, as they provide treatment for conditions such as emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Continuing education is essential to ensuring that respiratory therapists are knowledgeable about the latest information and treatments regarding diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. Effective treatment and patient safety depend on well-informed and trained medical professionals.