Turn Your Respiratory Therapy Associate Degree into a Bachelor’s Degree

November 18, 2020

Respiratory therapy associates discussing a lung x-ray

Respiratory therapists who aspire to positions at the manager and director level with their healthcare organization first need to turn their respiratory therapy associate degree into a bachelor’s degree, which prepares them with the skills and knowledge they need for leadership roles. Careers in medical sales, quality, IT, and performance improvement often require a bachelor’s degree and may be another option for respiratory therapists.

Earning a bachelor degree is now the recommendation of the American Association for Respiratory Care, which began in recent years to call upon academic institutions to promote a bachelor degree for respiratory therapists and “ensure the workforce is adequately prepared to meet the challenges it will face in terms of protocol-driven care and disease management.”

Marian University meets that challenge. The University offers a 100% online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy that allows those with an associate’s degree to complete a four-year program while working in their current job.

Students who enter the program can complete their respiratory therapy bachelor’s degree in 18 months. The program accepts new students every seven weeks. The University offers the classes through its MPath 7-Week Accelerated program and allows students to take one or two courses at a time.

Applicants to the Marian University program receive 43 transfer credits for courses they took at the associate level from an accredited respiratory therapy program. Students who earned their associate degree at a Wisconsin Technical College receive additional transfer credits. Respiratory therapists working in Wisconsin may receive up to a 20% tuition discount.

Why Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy?

Earning a bachelor degree in respiratory therapy builds on the knowledge learned in a two-year program, preparing therapists to create better patient outcomes while also advancing their own career.

In their call for respiratory therapists to earn a bachelor’s degree, AARC officials said two-year programs no longer prepare graduates with everything they need to provide the highest quality of care. Former AARC Education Section Chair Ellen Becker said that a two-year program does not give educators all the time they need to teach the required respiratory therapy competencies.

“Further, there is evidence from the nursing literature that patient care improves when there are greater numbers of nursing staff with baccalaureate preparation,” Becker said.

The healthcare industry also has a need for respiratory therapists. Federal data indicates that the number of people in the occupation will increase by 19% by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Also, the average pay for respiratory therapists in Wisconsin is $64,320, higher than the national average. Higher pay typically goes to those with a higher education level, and the top 25% of  respiratory therapists in Wisconsin make around $72,890.

How Marian University Prepares Respiratory Therapists for Success

The 100% online BS in Respiratory Therapy program from Marian University prepares students to excel in the field, whether they choose to work in a hospital, doctor’s office, clinic, with patients in their homes, or medical equipment support and sales.

In addition to strengthening students’ skills and broadening their knowledge in providing respiratory therapy, the program also teaches students about healthcare administration and management. That includes building skills in areas such as research, communication, and healthcare leadership.

Students also take a three-credit Allied Health Capstone that offers them the opportunity to use evidence-based solutions for solving real-world professional challenges.

Program courses include:

  • Research Methods
  • Intro to Health Care Administration
  • Principles of Management
  • Leadership in Ethical Organizations
  • Online Speaking and Presentations
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Organizational Behavior and Communication

Graduates from a respiratory therapy bachelor ‘s degree program hone their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills while also learning about what it takes to lead in a healthcare environment. For those who want to move into the top tier of their profession, a BS in Respiratory Therapy can open the right doors.