Staying one step ahead in any health care profession requires a commitment to education, and many fields similar to respiratory therapy have already increased their entry level degree requirement to the bachelor’s degree or higher.
The AARC is proactively working with its communities of interest to move the respiratory care profession in that direction and progress has been made on several fronts. In 2017, the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care issued a new standard that went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, requiring all new RT programs seeking accreditation to offer at least a bachelor’s degree.
This past year, the AARC published an issue paper calling for “a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in respiratory therapy, or health sciences with a concentration in respiratory therapy, and the RRT credential for entry to practice as a respiratory therapist” by the year 2030.
RTs already working in the field will, of course, be grandfathered in, but clearly the handwriting is on the wall: to give yourself the best chance for career advancement going forward, you need to get your BS degree.
How can you incorporate school back into your life as a busy professional? Matthew Walker, BS, RRT, RRT-NPS, did it back in 2016. We asked him how it went –
When and why did you decide to go back to school and where did you earn your advanced degree?
In 2016, after almost 10 years as an RCP and for many personal and professional reasons, I decided to pursue my bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. I completed my degree at the end of 2017 from Boise State University.
What job did you hold at the time and about how many hours a week did you put in on the job while taking classes?
When I began my advanced degree, I had just transitioned to a clinical coordinator position at a new employer. I was working about 40 hours per week.
What was the hardest part about integrating schoolwork into your busy life as a working RT?
Because the schoolwork closely integrated with what I was doing in my new job, I didn’t have too much difficulty integrating the two. My personal life on the other hand — that was a challenge!
What are your top three pieces of advice on fitting school back into your life as a working RT and why do you think these are most important?
Number one, do not procrastinate! Whether with school, work, or personal obligations, last minute emergencies always seem to show themselves when we are the least prepared!
Number two, professionally and personally network and further develop relationships. Seek advice, assistance, and guidance from the people around you.
Number three, take your time. With the proliferation of online education, self-pacing is easily achievable.
Find a program
You can search for accredited RT programs offering a bachelor’s degree or higher (including those with degree advancement programs) on the CoARC website.