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Respiratory Therapy

If you are a hands-on problem solver and enjoy helping others, a career as a Respiratory Therapist could be the path for you! Respiratory Therapists (RTs) play an important role in patient care and the demand for RTs is growing. According to the California Employment Development Department, job growth in respiratory therapy is expected to increase at a rate of 25.3 percent through 2026*.

Our focus is on your success! At American Career College, our Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy program can help you graduate with the confidence and the qualifications you need to begin your career as a Respiratory Therapist.

*California Employment Development Department

  • Overview
  • Careers After I Graduate
  • What Will I Learn?
  • What Will I Do?

Respiratory Therapy Program Overview

The American Career College Respiratory Therapy (RT) program is designed to help you acquire the knowledge and training to evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Respiratory Therapists care for a variety of patients, both young and old, whose lungs are not fully developed or may be diseased.

The Respiratory Therapy Program at ACC offers a combination of classroom, laboratory and clinical studies that will allow you to develop a range of skills relevant to the roles and responsibilities of a Respiratory Therapist, which include the following tasks:

  • Providing emergency care, interviewing patients, performing limited physical examinations and conducting diagnostic tests
  • Determine requirements for treatment including type, duration, method and precautions necessary
  • Executing effective plans and protocols to assist patients so they can breathe comfortably
  • Operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems or aerosol generators

Through the respiratory therapy program, we aim to help you graduate with the confidence and qualifications you need to begin your career as a RT.* After successfully completing the RT program, you will be eligible to sit for the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exams (written and clinical simulation), offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). **

Respiratory Therapy - Program Goals and Outcomes

Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the goals of the program are achieved and determine which program is effective. The Respiratory Therapy (Associate of Occupational Science) programs in Orange County and Ontario are programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).**

Programmatic outcomes data reported on the (COARC) websiteinclude the following data:

  • 3-year time period being reported
  • CRT credentialing success
  • RRT credentialing success
  • Attrition
  • Job placement
  • Overall graduate satisfaction
  • Overall employer satisfaction
  • On-time Graduation Rate
  • Total number of program enrollees
  • Total number of program graduates
  • Maximum annual enrollment

* American Career College cannot guarantee employment.

** CoARC 264 Precision Blvd., Telford, TN 37690; Phone (817) 283-2835 / Fax (817) 510-1063 /

Careers After I Graduate

Respiratory Therapists generally work in hospitals, clinical settings, sleep disorder clinics, Physicians’ offices, or rehabilitation centers.* Successful completion of the American Career College Respiratory Therapy program requires clinical experience, where you may work with patients who have a variety of ailments and conditions that prohibit their cardiopulmonary system from working correctly.

Many area employers are very familiar with the quality of ACC's health care training programs and our school's track record for preparing confident, qualified professionals for rewarding careers. Our graduates have been hired by:

  • American Red Cross
  • Cedars Sinai
  • UCI Medical Center
  • Glendale Memorial
  • Good Samaritan
  • Hollywood Presbyterian
  • Huntington Memorial
  • Irvine Regional Medical Center
  • Little Company of Mary
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Joseph Hospital
  • Jude Hospital
  • Francis Hospital
  • John's Medical Group
  • Shriners Hospital for Children
  • USC
  • Harbor UCLA Medical Center
  • Hoag Hospital
  • Lenscrafters
  • Newport Dental
  • Pearle Vision Care
  • SmileCare Family Dentistry
  • CVS
  • Pharmerica
  • RiteAid
  • RxRelief
  • Aetna Healthcare
  • BlueCross
  • United Healthcare
  • U.S. Healthworks


A few interesting statistics* about respiratory therapy careers:

  • According to the California Employment Development Department job growth is expected to increase at a rate of 25.3 percent through 2026.*
  • Conditions affecting the general population, such as smoking, air pollution and respiratory emergencies, will continue to create demand for Respiratory Therapists.
  • Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased number of respiratory conditions, resulting in an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Many Respiratory Therapists belong to professional societies such as the California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) and the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), which provide their members with various benefits and services, including continuing education opportunities and products and services related to the profession. (According to the California Employment Development Department

*California Employment Development Department

What Will I Learn

The curriculum in the Respiratory Therapy program is divided into eight, 10-week quarters. Students will begin with general education, anatomy and physiology, and core respiratory therapy and conclude with clinical practicum courses.

Clinical experience in an appropriate hospital or clinical setting is required for successful completion of the school's program. These clinical rotations, which begin in quarter five, comprise a total of 960 hours.

Respiratory Therapy core courses include the following:

  • Respiratory Procedures I– This course introduces students to basic respiratory care treatments and support modalities; set up, use and troubleshooting of equipment; concepts related to the therapeutic administration of oxygen & aerosol therapy in respiratory care and concepts & techniques surrounding sampling and proper handling and transport of arterial blood gases. Focus is placed on adherence to techniques ensuring appropriate infection control practices and patient safety. Students will learn to conduct physical and clinical exams and patient assessments to determine and develop appropriate and effective treatment plans.
  • Neonatal/Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology –This course is a study of fetal development of the cardiopulmonary system, respiratory care of neonatal and pediatric patients, as well as causes and treatment of respiratory illnesses. Students will gain an understanding of patient evaluation, monitoring and therapeutic modalities seen with common neonatal and pediatric disorders, including respiratory distress syndrome, intracranial hemorrhage, pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, common respiratory infections in the infant and pediatric population and pediatric trauma.
  • Critical Care Monitoring– In this course, you will study critical care monitoring of particular patient populations, such as open-heart and pediatric patients, hemodynamic monitoring, ventilator waveform analysis and capnography. Proper reading of monitors, accurate interpretation of readings, strengths and shortcomings of various hemodynamic monitoring modalities will be discussed.
  • Respiratory Care Review– This course is intended as a final preparation for graduation and attempting the NBRC board exams (both CRT and RRT exams). You will review subject matter in all major core areas of the respiratory care program. By the end of this course, all students must take and pass the written SAE for both the CRT and RRT exams and pass the required number of Clinical Simulations from the registry exam SAE.
  • Clinical Practicum I– This course is an introduction to the clinical environment. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills of patient assessment, observation, modification of therapy, development of patient care plans and documentation to the patient care record. You will complete a minimum of five chart reviews by the end of this practicum in order to demonstrate locating and appropriately collecting patient data from the medical record.

 Other core courses in this program include the following:

  • Career Advantage
  • Cardiopulmonary Anatomy and Physiology
  • Respiratory Procedures I - Lab
  • Respiratory Pharmacology
  • Respiratory Pharmacology - Lab
  • Adult Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology
  • Respiratory Procedures II
  • Respiratory Procedures II - Lab
  • Intro to Clinical Practicum
  • Cardiopulmonary Diagnostic Testing - Lab
  • Rehab and Home Health in Respiratory Care
  • Mechanical Ventilation I
  • Mechanical Ventilation I - Lab
  • Neonatal / Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Ventilation Concepts
  • Clinical Practicum I
  • Clinical Practicum II
  • Clinical Practicum III

What Will I Do as a Respiratory Therapist

You’ll be on your way to helping others!

As you begin your career as a Respiratory Therapist, the ongoing development of your skills can create increased opportunities for advancement. Our Career Services team will provide you with resources, support and the personalized assistance you need to keep your career on the fast track.

According to the California Employment Development Department, job growth for Respiratory Therapists is expected to increase at a rate of 25.3 percent through 2026*.

As an entry-level Respiratory Therapist, your day-to-day responsibilities may include the following:*

  • Enter, transcribe, record and store patient information
  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, and environmental control systems
  • Provide emergency care, including artificial respiration, external cardiac massage and assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, and medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders
  • Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, and blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to manage patient care
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information
  • Inspect, clean, test and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises and the use of medications and respiratory equipment

*Source: California Employment Development Department

"I completed four years of college and graduated as a History major, but I couldn't seem to find a job that was secure. I knew the medical profession was so I researched a few places and picked American Career College. It was the best fit."

Juan S. Respiratory Therapy Graduate
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