2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Apr 22, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Respiratory Care (A.S.)

Location(s): Brookings, Huron, Madison, Rapid City, Sioux Falls

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Respiratory care student working in a simulation lab.

Program Coordinator/Contact

Lacy Patnoe, Program Director
Department of Allied and Population Health
Monument Health, Rapid City

Program Information

Respiratory Care is the health care discipline that specializes in the promotion of optimum cardiopulmonary function and health. Respiratory Therapists use science and technology to assess, treat, and manage care by use of diagnostic evaluation for patients with respiratory illnesses which would include the cardiac system.  Knowledge of the scientific principles underlying cardiopulmonary physiology and pathophysiology, as well as biomedical engineering and technology, enable respiratory therapists to effectively assess, educate, and treat patients.  Respiratory Therapists use technology in the education of patients about their disease and prevention of disease progression.

As a health care profession, Respiratory Care is practiced under medical direction across the health care continuum. Respiratory Care is specifically focused on the assessment, treatment, management, control, diagnostic evaluation, education, and care of patients with deficiencies and abnormalities of the cardiopulmonary system as well as on the prevention of the development of these deficiencies. Critical thinking, patient/environment assessment skills, and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines enable respiratory therapists to develop and implement effective care plans, patient-driven protocols, disease-based clinical pathways, and disease management programs. A variety of venues serve as the practice site for this health care profession including, but not limited to: acute care hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities, patients’ homes, patient transport systems, physician office, convalescent and retirement centers, educational institutions, and wellness centers.

The respiratory care programs at South Dakota State University (SDSU) are designed as either an associate or bachelor’s degree in respiratory care. The first fall and spring semesters of the A.S. program are spent on a university campus completing general education requirements. After the first year’s classes are completed, the student has class and clinical experiences at the primary clinical affiliate hospitals (Avera McKennan and Sanford Hospitals in Sioux Falls or Monument Health Rapid City). Following completion of the A.S. portion, students can complete the B.S. degree (third and fourth year).

The field of respiratory care provides excellent opportunities for those interested in a dynamic and exciting career in cardiopulmonary sciences. Salaries for respiratory therapists are excellent and compare favorably with other allied health fields. Job opportunities for new graduates are also very good. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow by 19% between now and 2029, making respiratory care one of the fastest growing occupations. This increase in demand is expected because of substantial growth of the elderly population, and increases in the numbers of patients with asthma and chronic lung disease.

Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure

The Respiratory Care program holds continuing accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), with the main clinical location in Sioux Falls (CoARC program number 200070) and a satellite location in Rapid City (CoARC program number 300015). 

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. Program outcomes data is available on the CoARC website.

Immediately upon graduation from the A.S. program, students are eligible to take the credentialing examination of the National Board of Respiratory Care to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist. This credential allows students to obtain a license to work.

Course Delivery Format

Courses are delivered through lecture, discussion, laboratory, and clinical practice experiences.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the A.S. and B.S. degree in Respiratory Care, students will be competent and acquire skills in the following areas:

  1. Patient Data:
    1. Evaluate, analyze, and acquire clinical data.
    2. Evaluate procedure results and diagnostic tests.
  2. Perform and recommend therapies:
    1. Perform clinical/patient assessment.
    2. Perform diagnostic procedures.
    3. Recommend diagnostic procedures and therapies
  3. Troubleshooting Equipment:
    1. Assemble/Troubleshoot Devices
  4. Infection control:
    1. Ensure infection prevention.
    2. Perform QC procedures.
  5. Initiation and modification of interventions:
    1. Maintain a patent airway/care of artificial airways.
    2. Perform airway clearance and lung expansion techniques.
    3. Support oxygenation and ventilation.
    4. Admin meds, specialty gases, and mechanical ventilation.
    5. Ensure modifications are made to respiratory care plan.
    6. Utilize evidence-based practice.
    7. Providing respiratory care in high-risk situations.
    8. Assist a physician/provider in performing procedures.
    9. Implement critical thinking and decision making for problem solving.
    10. Maintain ethical considerations.
    11. Initiating and conducting prescribed pulmonary rehabilitation.
    12. Establish therapeutic goals.
  6. Communication:
    1. Maintain effective interprofessional communication.
    2. Provide patient/family/community education.
    3. Implement culturally diverse communication styles.
  7. Disease Management:
    1. Identify cardiopulmonary diseases.
    2. Perform disease prevention and management.

Academic Requirements

Satisfactory academic progress is defined as:

  • A final grade of at least “C” in each course in the program curriculum and an overall GPA of at least 2.60 on a 4.00 scale.
  • If a student obtains an unsatisfactory final grade (D or F) in any class in the program curriculum and repeats it, the grade in which repeated class must be at least a “B”.  Any general education course in the respiratory care curriculum may be repeated more than once, but the final grade must be at least a “B”.
  • RESP prefix courses may be repeated only once to remove any unsatisfactory grade.
  • Any general education course in the respiratory care curriculum may be repeated more than once, but the final grade must be at least a B. The maximum number of attempts per course is (3). No more than one “W” per course is permitted.
  • Students must successfully pass the comprehensive final exam before graduating from the A.S. program.

Requirements for Respiratory Care Major: 68 Credits

Associate of Science

Total Required Credits: 68

Summary of Program Requirements

Associate of Science

System General Education Requirements 20 Credit Hours
Major Requirements 48 Credit Hours
Electives 0 Credit Hours

Academic Advising Guide Sheet

The goal of the academic advising guide sheets and sample plans of study is to promote undergraduate student success by guiding all students to timely completion of an undergraduate degree. Students are not limited to the course sequence provided for their academic program. Instead, the sample plan of study is one possible path to completing your degree and is meant to be used as a guide for planning purposes in consultation with an academic advisor. The plans also help students prepare for meetings with their academic advisor and track their progress in their selected academic program.