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Respiratory Care

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General Information

The respiratory therapist manages life support in critical care situations. The respiratory care practitioner also treats patients with cardiopulmonary disorders, including shock and trauma, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, heart disease, and premature birth. Patients range in age from very low birth weight infants to the elderly.

In addition to treatment responsibilities, the respiratory care practitioner is actively involved in the diagnostic testing of infants, children, and adults with varying medical problems. The therapist may work in critical care, rehabilitation and long-term care, research, sleep, pulmonary function, cardiac laboratories, management, and education. Managing sophisticated medical technology, the therapist is a vital partner in the modern health care team.

KU offers a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree program in respiratory care. Students may take the first 2 years of prerequisites at KU's Lawrence campus or at any regionally accredited 2- or 4-year college or university. The program provides an organized learning experience in which each student acquires an in-depth understanding of and proficiency in advanced concepts of clinical respiratory care and the fundamentals of health professions education and management. During the senior year, the student specializes in one area of concentration: adult critical care, neonatal critical care, pulmonary rehabilitation, management, education, pulmonary function, sleep medicine, or hyperbaric medicine. Additionally, the student completes a faculty-guided research project.

For working professionals who have graduated from a COARC-approved advanced practice (RRT) level respiratory care program and have earned the RRT credential, KU offers a flexible online baccalaureate degree-completion program. Students need to take any prerequisite courses they lack, in addition to the online respiratory care courses, to meet the credit-hour requirements for a 4-year degree.

The Department of Respiratory Care Education is on the fourth floor of Delp Pavilion on the KU Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kan. It is one of many academic programs in the KU School of Health Professions.

Advising and FAQ

For information about respiratory care at KU, please visit the department’s website. Students interested in entering this field should contact an adviser as early as possible in their collegiate careers to ensure prerequisite course work will be completed on schedule. Contact an adviser today.

View some commonly asked questions we've received from prospective students.

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