Friday, December 15, 2017

Breathe Easy: SLCC Starts Respiratory Program

Imagine breathing through a straw. Try as you might, you can’t get enough oxygen. For those with respiratory problems, this kind of struggle is all too real, but trained respiratory therapists can help.

They provide hands-on care and treatment to patients with respiratory problems, which are often made worse by winter pollution in the Salt Lake Valley. Consequently, respiratory therapists are in great demand in Utah.

Enter Salt Lake Community College, with its new respiratory therapy training. The School of Health Sciences with support from Intermountain Health Care, the University of Utah Health Care and Mountain Star’s St. Mark’s has designed an AAS degree in Respiratory Therapy. These partner facilities, as well as others, will serve as the locale for required clinical hours. The first students start in January. The program’s creation was funded with $200,000 from the Utah State Board of Regents.

“The combination of the inversion and aging baby boomers created a perfect storm for Utah,” says George Schwoegler, coordinator of the new program and Health Sciences Professor. “There is a huge demand for respiratory therapists in local hospitals.”

Jordan Campus is hosting the program with classes held in the evenings and clinical work at night and on weekends. “We’re looking for students who need to work Monday through Friday to take care of their families, but still want to continue their education,” Schwoegler says.

“There are currently no respiratory programs within the state that do this.” The student cost is $13,000, significantly less than comparable programs elsewhere, he says.

After completing the program and accomplishing 800 hours of hands on clinical training, students take a National Board of Respiratory Care exam for state and national certification, allowing them to work as respiratory therapists in hospitals or other clinical settings. “We are preparing all of our students to score high and to get the national certification,” Schwoegler says.