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Allied Health

Respiratory Care

Questions and Answers

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What is the role of a respiratory care practitioner (RCP)?

Respiratory CarespacerRespiratory care is a dynamic, high-tech, high-touch field involving direct patient care.

RCPs work under the direction of a physician and assist in the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with pulmonary disorders.

RCPs work with patients of all ages - from premature infants to the elderly - and commonly treat such diseases as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. In disease diagnosis, RCPs measure the capacity of a patient's lungs to determine if there is impaired function. After diagnosis, the RCP is responsible for administering therapeutic gases, aerosols and medications using highly technical, industry standard equipment.

In emergency and critical care settings, the RCP provides basic and advanced life support for critically ill patients. These RCPs must be skilled in ventilator and airway management, arterial blood gas sampling and analysis, hemodynamic monitoring, and assisting with special procedures such as bronchoscopy.

Today's health care is rapidly changing and evolving. Areas such as home care, rehabilitation, long-term extended care and wellness education are steadily growing. RCPs are in an excellent position to move into opportunities offered in these nontraditional health care settings.

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What personal qualities should I possess to be a successful RCP?

Respiratory CarespacerThe best RCPs are sensitive to the needs of patients who have serious physical impairments. They have a strong sense of responsibility, as well as good communication skills--both written and oral.

As an RCP, you will be expected to work well as a team member with physicians, nurses and other health care professionals. To be able to advance with the changes in the profession, you must be able to communicate the needs of your patients while employing independent judgement, knowledge and assessment skills.

Since much of your work involves the use of high-tech medical equipment, you should have an interest in learning proper handling and operational procedures.

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How do I become an RCP?

To practice as an RCP, you must graduate from an accredited two-year respiratory care program and pass an entry-level exam to become a certified respiratory therapist (CRT). This exam, offered in all 50 states, can be taken in June following graduation. Those who pass will meet requirements for state licensure.

Following certification, you are encouraged to take advanced practitioner exams to become a registered respiratory therapist (RRT). Specialties such as pulmonary diagnostics and perinatal respiratory care offer their own credentialing systems. All exams, currently administered in the Seattle area, are computerized with instant results.

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What makes the program at Spokane Community College stand out?

SCC's respiratory care program is unique in that it offers a strong emphasis in pulmonary diagnostics, basic life support instruction, advanced cardiac life support, and long-term and home care. Also, because it is articulated with the SCC cardiovascular programs, students gain additional training that enhances their employability.

One-hundred percent of the graduates of this program have passed the entry-level certified respiratory therapist exam and have found employment in this field. Our graduates' pass rate for advanced practitioner exams equals or exceeds national averages from similar programs across the country.

Starting in the fall of 2001, students from outside the Spokane area may enroll in the distance learning option through the following community colleges: Columbia Basin, Yakima Valley and Wenatchee Valley. Students wishing to pursue this option must first successfully pass appropriate support courses.

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What classes will I take?

Respiratory Care(spacer)The two-year respiratory therapy program begins each fall quarter and leads to an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree.

Courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, physical science, microbiology, electro-physiology, interpersonal communications, and specialty courses in respiratory care and pulmonary diagnostics are required. The curriculum incorporates classroom, laboratory and clinical courses in order to prepare students to function as RCPs after graduation. All courses must be completed with a grade point of 2.0 or better to continue in the program. Distance learning students must take support courses prior to enrollment in the respiratory care program.

The two-year respiratory care program begins each fall quarter, and leads to an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree.

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How much will the program cost?*

Application fee:  $10.00
Test (ASSET)10.00
Physical exam:  100.00
National certification:  100.00
WA state licensure:  100.00
State seminar:  80.00

Approx. quarterly cost*
Resident tuition/registration fees:  544.00
Nonres. tuition w/waiver/reg. fees:  668.00
Parking fee: 12.00
Books (est. for seven quarters):  1,500.00
Supplies and equip. (est. for seven quarters): 300.00
Uniforms: 100.00
Insurance: 35.00
Physical Exam: 100.00
NBRC: 190.00
AARC: 45.00
WA State Licensure: 80.00
State Seminar: 80.00
Lab fees: (see class
  • All costs are subject to change without notice.
  • Students must have reliable transportation for clinical travel at students own expense.
  • Distance learning option requires computer access, Internet account and various hardware.
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Where can I get a job?

Employment opportunities in respiratory care are available in acute care facilities (hospitals), subacute and long-term care facilities, medical equipment supply companies, home health agencies and physicians' offices. According to the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), this profession is expected to grow 46 percent by the year 2005. . Approximately 120,000 RCPs are practicing in the U.S. and overseas. The AARC website offers a six-minute video, "Life and Breath 2000," which may be helpful to anyone interested in learning more about a career in respiratory care at the following URL:
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How much will I earn?

Starting salaries in the Spokane area range from $14 to $17 per hour with excellent benefit packages available. There are both part-time and full-time jobs as well as rotating shifts (which include weekends). Experienced practitioners earn from $20 to $30 per hour following three to five years of experience.

This career field offers a high degree of mobility. Trained therapists may relocate to other areas of the country and branch into management, sales, education and cardiopulmonary diagnostics. They may also pursue additional education including internships, baccalaureate degrees and master's degrees.

Respiratory Care

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For more information....Additional Information
If you have general questions regarding the Respiratory Care program, its entry requirements, or the admissions process, please contact the SCC Admissions Office via email ( or phone (509-533-8020 or 1-800-248-5644, ext. 8020), and one of our friendly, knowledgeable staff members will assist you.
If you have more specific questions regarding this program, please contact Dee Arkell, BS, RRT, CPFT, who is the director of clinical education for the program, or Gary White, M.Ed., RRT, RPFT, who is the program director. Their contact information is as follows: or
Phone:(509) 533-7307 or (509) 533-7310; 1-800-248-5644 ext. 7307 or 7310
You can also submit an online information request or get our address to write for more information.
You may be eligible for free tuition! Follow this link to learn more.

Spokane Community College
1810 N. Greene St.
Spokane, WA 99217-5399
For general information call:
509-533-7000 or
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