Respiratory Care

bachelor of science in respiratory care

Respiratory care practitioners (respiratory therapists) evaluate and care for individuals who have breathing and other cardiopulmonary ailments ranging from moderate to life-threatening. Respiratory care practitioners work closely with other health care professionals to provide a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic care to patients. As a respiratory therapist, you will serve a vitally important role, one that saves and improves lives.

Clarion University's Respiratory Care 3-year bachelors program prepares you to be a registered respiratory therapist and to serve as an:
  • educator
  • researcher
  • manager
  • clinical specialist
  • other roles throughout the health care delivery system
Without a bachelors degree, respiratory therapists will not qualify for jobs such as department directors or staff educators.  Historically, most schools have produced associate level RTs which has caused a gap in these areas.  Moreover, many of the therapists currently fulfilling director and educator roles are part of the baby boomer generation (most are due to retire) and thus a large need in these areas is developing.  Large advanced health systems are beginning to require that therapists who wish to work in specialty areas such as ICU, NICU, ED, PICU, and many others have a bachelors degree in respiratory care, as well as pass the registry at the RRT level.  Our program is designed to close all of these gaps to help prepare tomorrows respiratory specialist, while doing so in one year less than traditional bachelor programs.
The field of respiratory therapy offers a wide range of tasks.  You may work in the:
  • NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) with a 4 pound newborn with underdeveloped lungs to help them breath
  • ICU with patients with COPD (lung disease) , open heart surgery and stroke patients
  • ER with trauma and accident victims as well as patients with asthma or with a small child who is dealing with a foreign body obstruction
  • obstetrics in labor and delivery to stabilize breathing in early term births
  • operating room to serve on the front lines to stabilize breathing after surgery or assist with diagnostic procedures
Graduates of the respiratory program will be eligible to take the Written Registry Examination and the Clinical Simulation Examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care.
The field of respiratory care affords exciting opportunities for career diversity. After attaining status as an advanced-level respiratory care practitioner, individuals may specialize in areas such as:
      • Intensive care
      • Neonatal and pediatric respiratory care
      • Polysomnography (the diagnosis of sleep disorders)
        PFT (pulmonary function testing)
      • Education
      • Administration
      • Medical sales

Respiratory care is a high priority occupation because of the demand for qualified respiratory therapists; factors that play into this is an aging population and increasing incidence of respiratory disease. Both health educators and medical sales representatives are also identified as high priority occupations for Pennsylvania. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment growth of about 23 percent, amounting to 30,400 new positions, by 2026.  In 2016, respiratory therapists made a median salary of $58,670.  (US News)

respiratory in sim lab

"I have been very fortunate to experience a great education 
in and out of the classroom. The professors are always 
helping students on an individual basis by using hands on training techniques. With the help of our patient simulation lab, learning to treat patients is much more realistic which  makes going to clinical sites more comfortable. I now see myself as a healthcare professional and not just as an ordinary student.  Clarion University - Venango has provided me with all of the necessary education and experience to go out into my career field and become the Respiratory Therapist I've always wanted to be." - Kelly Marsh


Additional PRogram INformation

Degree Requirements

Course Map

Program Outcomes

Student Handbook

Program Goal:  To prepare graduates with demonstrated competencies in the cognitive (knowledge) psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by advanced level respiratory therapists. 

The Clinical  Handbook contains important information and policies relative for  prospective and currently-enrolled respiratory and pre-respiratory care  majors. All respiratory care and pre-respiratory care majors are responsible for information contained in this handbook.

For more information on admission to the program, suggested program prerequisites, how to transfer to the school or about financial aid, visit Clarion University - Venango Admissions and Financial Aid Office in 217 Frame Hall.

Other Program Costs

Similar to other health care educational programs, enrolled students will realize costs over and above typical tuition and fees that are charged to all Clarion University students.  For a list of these estimated costs, please click here.  Please note that costs are estimated and are subject to change.

Costs incurred by prospective or enrolled respiratory care students are not reimbursable or refundable by Clarion University.

Students enrolled in the respiratory care program are required to travel to clinical sites.  Significant travel is sometimes involved.  Students must have reliable transportation and the ability to travel to their assigned clinical sites. All travel-related costs are at the expense of the student. 

admission to the program

Admission to Clarion's respiratory care program:

  • is available to individuals who meet the university's standard admission criteria  
  • Preference 2.75 GPA
  • is based on rolling admission until full capacity is reached

The following items, if necessary, are suggested to be completed prior to the start of the respiratory care program:

  • Math 050 as determined by Clarion's math placement exam
  • BIOL 111 (basic biology) if students have not had one year of high  school or college biology with a minimum grade of "C" or better within  the past 5 years
  • 4 hours of respiratory care career shadowing with a respiratory therapist is highly recommended but not required. If you need assistance with this please contact Stephanie Adams, Respiratory Care Program Director.

Pre-Clinical Requirements:

Students must satisfy the following pre-clinical requirements prior to beginning clinical rotations in May.   All pre-clinical requirements are at the student's expense and are subject to change.

  • Satisfactory physical examination and current immunizations
  • Child abuse history clearance
  • Satisfactory results of a screening for illegal drug use
  • FBI fingerprinting and criminal background clearance
  • Current Basic Life Support for Health Care Provider (CPR) certification by the American Heart Association
  • Documentation of health insurance during clinical rotations
  • Documentation of individual malpractice insurance*

* Students will purchase their own individual malpractice insurance policies in the amount of $1 million ($1,000,000.00) for each claim and $3 million ($3,000,000.00) in the aggregate. Cost of this two-year policy is currently less than $100 but is subject to change.

Other Information:

Only students who have satisfied the above pre-clinical requirements and have completed all science and general education requirements for the respiratory care program will be permitted to start clinical education. Clinical education typically begins each May.  All expenses incurred by students for the respiratory care program are non-refundable.

Throughout the 3 year bachelor of science in respiratory care program, students will be assigned to various clinical rotations in the region.  Considerable travel is required and students must have reliable transportation.

Internal Transfer for Current Clarion Students:

Currently enrolled Clarion students who wish to change their major to  respiratory care may be admitted to the program if they meet the program's academic requirements for admission for internal transfer students and if there is vacancy in the program.

The program's academic  requirements for admission for internal transfer students include a minimum QPA of 2.75 and passing grades in the following required  courses  that have already been taken:  Math 050 (per math placement scores); Math 117; AH 101; AH 201; BIOL 251, 261, 252, and 262; PHSC 111; and  BIOL 260.

Current Clarion students who wish to change their major to respiratory care should complete a Change of Status Form and submit it to the Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health and Sport Sciences.  The student  will be notified via the student's  Clarion email account if they have been admitted to the respiratory care program. If the student meets the program's academic requirements but there is no vacancy, the student may be placed on a waiting list for the respiratory care program.  A student on the program's waiting list could be admitted to the program in the current year should a position become available.  If no position becomes available in the current  academic year, the student will be admitted to the program the following  academic year.

Transfer Information for Students New to Clarion and Advanced Standing

Students who are new to Clarion and are admitted to the respiratory care program must complete a minimum of 60 credits at Clarion University - Venango regardless of credits that transfer in.  Please see Transfer Information for details such as:

  • Transference eligibility of general education credits required for the respiratory care program will be determined by the Office of Admissions in conjunction with the Office of the Registrar.
  • Transference eligibility of respiratory care credits earned at a college or university other than Clarion University (advanced standing) will be determined according to the following criteria:
    • Evaluation of respiratory care credits earned elsewhere will be conducted only for individuals who have made formal application to Clarion University's respiratory care program.
    • Evaluation of respiratory care courses completed elsewhere will be considered only for credits earned in a respiratory care program that is accredited in good standing by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
    • Evaluation of respiratory care credits earned elsewhere will be conducted at the discretion of the Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health and Sport Sciences chair and respiratory care faculty.
    • The student must be able to provide any requested documentation of course work completed elsewhere.  Such documentation may include formal transcripts, formal course descriptions, syllabi, copies of examinations, curriculum plans, copies of text books, letters of recommendation  or verification from former instructors, or other documentation as deemed necessary by the evaluating faculty.   Inability to provide such documentation to the satisfaction of the evaluating faculty will result in denial of credit evaluation and credit transfer.
    • Evaluation of the student's affective, cognitive, and psychomotor skills relative to the respiratory care course for which the student is seeking to be awarded transfer credits may be requested at the discretion of the evaluating faculty.  This may include written examination, oral examination, clinical simulation examination, and other evaluative mechanisms.
    • Credit for respiratory care courses completed elsewhere will be awarded only to individuals who have been formally accepted to Clarion University's respiratory care program and who begin the respiratory care program of study in the fall semester subsequent to the time of acceptance.
    • Credit granted for respiratory care courses completed elsewhere will be good for a maximum of two years from the time credit was granted unless determined otherwise by the Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health and Sport Sciences chair and respiratory care faculty.  Students may be required to re-demonstrate knowledge and proficiency via written examination, oral examination, clinical simulation examination, and other evaluative mechanisms.  Failure to demonstrate proficiency may preclude the student from continuing in the respiratory care program.
    • Free elective credit in respiratory care may be granted for respiratory care credits earned elsewhere at the discretion of the Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health and Sport Sciences chair for students who do not meet the aforementioned criteria.  All course work required for the respiratory care program must be completed regardless of whether free elective credit in respiratory care is awarded.
    • Credit for prior work in the field of respiratory care will not be accepted in lieu of required respiratory care courses.
    • In addition to being admitted to Clarion University by meeting academic standards, applicants to the respiratory care program must also meet technical standards.  Technical standards are the physical, cognitive, and behavioral  requirements of the respiratory care program's curriculum and reflect the functional abilities necessary to practice as a safe and effective respiratory therapist.
    • Criminal Background Clearances and Eligibility for NBRC Examinations and State Licensure are required.
    • Respiratory therapists must practice the profession of respiratory care in a safe and competent manner.  Certain types of criminal activity give cause to question the individual's ability to practice in a safe and competent manner and may therefore preclude the individual from sitting for the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) credentialing examinations and also from obtaining a license to practice respiratory care.  The inability to sit for the NBRC exams and obtain licensure will render an individual unable to practice as a respiratory therapist.

Clarion University does not make decisions about a student's eligibility to take the NBRC credentialing examinations or to obtain state licensure.  Admission to the respiratory care program in no way implies that a student is eligible to sit for the NBRC credentialing examinations or to obtain state licensure.  It is the responsibility of the student to ensure their eligibility to take the NBRC credentialing examination and to obtain state licensure.  Prior to starting the respiratory care program, students with criminal backgrounds are strongly recommended to do the following:

1.  Carefully review the NBRC's Judicial and Ethics Policies and contact the NBRC directly with any questions or concerns.

2.  Carefully review the Application for Licensure as a Respiratory Therapist from the State Board of Medicine (Pennsylvania) and contact the PA State Board of Medicine with any questions or concerns.  Individuals with a criminal background who plan to practice as a respiratory therapist in states other than Pennsylvania should contact the licensing agency of the state where the appropriate state.


callout image

Kelly Marsh

VIew the video to hear why Kelly says she loves respiratory care, and listen to her describe why she loves this field of study.

Contact Information

Amariliz Sanchez
Program Secretary
814-676-6591, ext. 1207
Clarion University - Venango
217 Frame Hall

Christine Harancher, MS, RRT 
Respiratory Care Program Director
206 Montgomery Hall 814 676 6591, EXT. 1253 
FAX: 814 676 0251

Greg Sambor, BS, RRT
Respiratory Care Director of Clinical Education
202 Montgomery Hall
PHONE: 814-393-1267
FAX: 814-676-0215
Last Updated 10/17/18