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Respiratory Care - Associate


Respiratory Care - Associate

Associate in Applied Science (AAS)

Offered through Health Professions

@ Forest Park

This program prepares students for positions as respiratory therapists. Students learn to assess, perform diagnostic tests, treat, and educate patients with cardiopulmonary disease. The program includes general education courses as well as respiratory care didactic, laboratory, and clinical practice in area health facilities.



The overall goal of the Respiratory Care program is to prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).

Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat and care for patients of all ages with cardiopulmonary disorders. A day in the life of a respiratory therapist might include:

students practice resuscitation on a simulation patient

  • Interviewing patients and performing physical examinations to obtain assessment data.
  • Performing and evaluating diagnostic tests to identify cardiopulmonary disorders.
  • Determining the type of therapy needed for the patient’s condition and consulting with physicians to recommend changes in therapy.
  • Managing ventilators and artificial airways for patients who cannot breathe normally on their own.
  • Performing Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP).
  • Educating patients and families about lung disease.

For more information about the respiratory care profession, visit be-an-rt.org.

Job Outlook and Salary

A career in respiratory care is one of the most in demand job fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations and the median annual wage of a respiratory therapist was $60,280 ($28.98/hour) in 2018.

Prerequisites to Apply to the Program

The Respiratory Care program is a selective program in which prerequisites are required in order to apply. These include the following:

  • English and Reading proficiency
  • Math proficiency: students must either place into MTH 160 OR complete MTH 140 or higher with a “C” or higher within 5 years
  • Chemistry: students must have completed two semesters of high school chemistry with lab OR one semester of college chemistry with lab (STLCC CHEM 101 or higher) with "C" grade or higher within 5 years
  • Anatomy & Physiology I (STLCC BIO 207) completed with a "C" or higher within 5 years
  • Anatomy & Physiology II (STLCC BIO 208) is a prerequisite to the first semester of respiratory care courses, but it does not have to be completed in order to apply
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher

Respiratory Care Program Requirements Checklist

General Education and Respiratory Course Requirements

The curriculum requires two full academic years with an intervening summer. The recommended academic plan blends general education requirements with areas of concentration to ensure students get the most out of their Associate in Applied Science in Respiratory Care degree.



Applying to the Respiratory Care program

STLCC’s Respiratory Care program is a selective admission, college level program.

Each year 25 students who meet the application requirements are accepted on a first come/first serve basis.

Students are encouraged to take as many general education courses as possible prior to starting the first semester of respiratory care coursework.

Academic Advising

Prior to application, students are encouraged to meet with an academic advisor to help plan courses and clarify program requirements.

Admission Process

When a student has met all program requirements for application, the student must meet with an academic advisor to complete an application. Applications are submitted to the Program Coordinator Lindsay Fox at STLCC-RespiratoryCare@stlcc.edu and are accepted on a continuing basis. Students will be notified via email on the status of their application. Acceptance to the program will be conditional upon the onboarding requirements that include attending a mandatory orientation in the summer and completion of a background check and drug test. Once students complete the onboarding requirements, the admissions office will process a "Change of Program" form allowing students to register for fall respiratory care classes.

Applicants entering the fall semester must attend a mandatory orientation session that will be held in June.
  • Information about the orientation will be sent via the student’s my.stlcc.edu email.
  • Once students complete the mandatory orientation, the admissions office will process a "Change of Program" form allowing students to register for fall respiratory care classes.
  • Eligible applicants not admitted due to space availability will remain on the admissions waitlist and will receive notification via their my.stlcc.edu email with a request to reply with their intentions to continue to be considered for admission to the program in the future. Failure to respond to this email by the deadline given will result in removal from the waitlist.

The Respiratory Care Program (Program #200050) offering an Associate’s in Applied Science (AAS) degree at the Forest Park campus located at 5600 Oakland Avenue, St. Louis, MO is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (www.coarc.com).

The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (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. The information on outcomes of all accredited programs can be found at https://coarc.com/students/programmatic-outcomes-data/.

Additional Resources

American Association for Respiratory Care – professional organization
National Board for Respiratory Care Accreditation – credentialing

Respiratory Care Technical Skills and Competencies

Respiratory Care Practitioner's General Job Description

  • Utilizes the application of scientific principles for the identification, prevention, remediation, research and rehabilitation of acute or chronic cardiopulmonary dysfunction thereby producing optimum health and function
  • Reviews existing data, collects additional data, and recommends obtaining data to evaluate the respiratory status of patients, develop the respiratory care plan, and determine the appropriateness of the prescribed therapy
  • Initiates, conducts, and modifies prescribed therapeutic and diagnostic procedures such as:
    • administering medical gases, humidification and aerosols, aerosol medications, airway clearance therapy, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation
    • providing support services to mechanically ventilated patients
    • maintaining artificial and natural airways
    • performing pulmonary function testing, hemodynamic monitoring and other physiologic monitoring
    • collecting specimens of blood and other materials
  • Documents necessary information in the patient’s medical record and on other forms, and communicates that information to members of the health care team
  • Obtains, assembles, calibrates, and checks necessary equipment
  • Uses problem solving to identify and correct malfunctions of respiratory care equipment
  • Demonstrates appropriate interpersonal skills to work productively with patients, families, staff and co-workers
  • Functions safely, effectively, and calmly under stressful situations
  • Maintains composure while managing multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Prioritizes multiple tasks
  • Accepts directives, maintains confidentiality, does not discriminate, and upholds the ethical standards of the profession

Essential Functions: Physical and mental standards

The Respiratory Care Program requires agility and strength sufficient to move from room to room, lift and position patients, maneuver in small places, and perform clinical services. Students must possess gross and fine motor abilities as well as auditory, visual, and tactile acuity, which are required to assess health status and perform effective patient care. To achieve the necessary requirements for issuance of an Associate in Applied Science degree in Respiratory Care, the graduate must meet technical skills with or without reasonable accommodations. Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations are encouraged to contact the Access Office to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. See the chart below for specific requirements by the Respiratory Care program.

Frequency: O = Occasionally (1-33%) F = Frequently (34-66%) C = Constantly (67-100%)

Physical Stamina Required (Description)

Frequency Specify need for accommodation

Lift - up to 50 lbs. to assist moving patients, supplies, equipment.
Lift - up to 200 lb. when moving patients



Stoop - adjust equipment. F  
Kneel - manipulate equipment, perform CPR, plug in electrical equipment. O  
Reach - overhead lights, equipment, cabinets, attach oxygen to outlets, stocking. C  
Motor skills, manual dexterity – small and large equipment for storing, moving; apply sterile gloves; take BP; operate computers; perform CPR; utilize syringes, tubes, catheters; set up and maintain sterile field. C  
Stand for prolonged periods of time (to deliver therapy, check equipment and patient; perform surgical procedures). C  
Climb Stairs to respond quickly to an emergency on another floor when elevators are unavailable or full. O  
Feel - palpate pulses; perform physical exams; feel arteries or veins for puncture; assess skin temperature. C  
Push/Pull large wheeled equipment, i.e. mechanical ventilators, wheelchairs, patients, x-ray, equipment, EKG machines, and office equipment. C  
Walk for extended periods of time. C  
Walk quickly or run to respond to emergency calls or assist in critically ill patient transports. O  
Manipulate - knobs, dials associated with diagnostic or therapeutic devices; small instruments, syringes. C  
Respond - verbal directions, alarms, telephone; hear through a stethoscope for heart sounds, lung sounds, and blood pressure. C  
Assess - patient conditions such as skin color, work of breathing; read small print and calibration on equipment; perceive color. C  
Communicate - goals and procedures to patients in English. C  
Communicate - pertinent information (patient assessment, outcome assessments) in English. C  
Comprehend - typed, handwritten, computer information in English. C  

Mental Attitude (Description)

Function safely, effectively and calmly under stressful situations. C  
Maintain composure and concentration while managing multiple tasks simultaneously. C  
Prioritize multiple tasks. C  
Social skills necessary to interact with patients, families, co-workers - of the same or different cultures; respectful, polite, discrete; able to work as a team. C  
Maintain personal hygiene consistent with close contact during direct patient care. C  
Display actions, attitudes consistent with ethical standards of the profession. C  
Exposure to blood borne pathogens – Hepatitis, HIV. F  
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Estimated expenses in addition to your tuition and fees

  • ~$1,000 for textbooks
  • $300-350 for supplies (lab coat, scrubs, stethoscope, second-hand watch, personal protective equipment, etc.)
  • $13.80 for a criminal background check (price increases with additional residences)
  • $28.80 for drug testing
  • $27.50 for compliance tracking through Castlebranch
  • Physical examination and immunizations (cost varies)
  • $69 for American Heart Association’s Basic Life Support course at STLCC
  • $300-350 for American Heart Association ACLS course
  • $150 for Trajecsys Clinical Tracking System
  • $25/year for AARC Early Professional Membership

Lindsay Fox, Program Coordinator

Blake Anyan, Clinical Coordinator

Diane Dodd, Associate Professor

Danielle Gutierrez, Adjunct Instructor

Dr. Kurtis Sobush, Medical Director

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Cost of Attendance

For more information on cost of attendance visit MoSCORES.

Program Career and Salary Information

Pursuant to Missouri HB 1606 (2018), information regarding the number of credit hours, program length, employment rate, wage data, and graduates employed in careers related to their program of study at St. Louis Community College can be found at https://scorecard.mo.gov/. Search using School / Program “St. Louis Community College” and choose the degree or credential type of interest.

The following limitations to the data apply - Information provided is based on the most recent cohorts available. Typically, most recent cohorts for wage and completion data are six years prior to the current academic year. Time to complete a program of study varies depending on the number of credit hours students earn per semester.

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