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How to Choose the Best Respiratory Therapy Program For You

Posted by Julie Cerney, revised by Sara Giboney Thursday, Jul. 13, 2023

How to Choose the Best Respiratory Therapy Program for YouIf you know you want to be a respiratory care professional, now is the time to find the right respiratory therapy program for you.

As you pursue your respiratory therapy education, you’ll have to determine what you want from a college, which program is right for you and which school will provide the best education.

To help you take a deeper dive into what sets one respiratory care program apart from another, we’ve prepared a Respiratory Therapy Program Comparison Worksheet for you to download.

In choosing any higher education degree program, be sure to identify your individual preferences as well as potential programs’ strengths and weaknesses.

Also consider institutional reputation, culture, and student and alumni feedback.

Read more: How to Start a Career in Respiratory Therapy

Identifying Your Personal Needs for a Respiratory Therapist School

  • School Size: Are you more comfortable at a small to midsize school or a large university?
  • Location: How important is geographic location?
  • Price and Value: What are your budget considerations for tuition and fees, return on investment and overall value? Do you have college credits to transfer that may substantially reduce total cost?
  • Timing and Flexibility: Do you have a target start date or deadline for completion of your degree?
  • Culture and Customer Service: How important is individualized attention and helpful human interaction, in-person and online?

Read more: Six Personality Traits of a Good Respiratory Therapist

Comparing Respiratory Therapy Schools: Key Factors

Accreditation: A Must for Any Respiratory Therapy Course

To take the certification exams you need to practice respiratory therapy, choose a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

Determine whether a school is accredited by checking the respiratory therapy program page on their website.

Understanding the Respiratory Therapy Career Path: From Associate to Bachelor's Degrees

Currently, the minimum degree you'll need to be a respiratory therapist is an associate degree. 

In fact, about 80% of "entry into professional practice" degree programs are at the associate level. However, it's important to know the bachelor's degree is the future of the respiratory care profession so you can plan accordingly.

Choosing Between Different Respiratory Therapy Degree Options

Some schools, like Nebraska Methodist College (NMC), offer several respiratory care degree options that allow you to add a bachelor's degree.

Degree configurations differ slightly from school to school, but NMC's program offerings are:

Assessing Practical Learning Opportunities in Respiratory Therapy Courses

When choosing a respiratory therapy program, make sure students are exposed to a wide variety of settings for clinical instruction.

NMC has a respiratory care lab that gives students the opportunity to gain competency with diagnostic and therapeutic equipment similar to what is used in clinical practice. 

Students practice simulations with a mechanical test lung, which demonstrates compliance and resistance changes in cardiovascular disorders.

Anatomy Labs That Give Students Real-Life Experiences

When students have access to a human cadaver lab or a 3D virtual dissection table, they can learn the anatomy of the lungs and respiratory system.

The cadaver lab at NMC provides students with the unique opportunity to learn physiology concepts from donated preserved human bodies.

NMC has an anatomage table, a 3D fully interactive anatomy platform that provides students with life-sized digital simulations scanned from real cadavers. 

Broadening Your Scope with Minors: A Boost for Your Respiratory Therapist Career

Choosing a minor can help broaden your scope of practice by giving you an edge when looking for a job. For example, respiratory therapy graduates with a minor in Spanish are in demand. 

NMC offers a minor in Spanish for Healthcare Professionals.

Reputation and Success: Vital Factors for Choosing a Respiratory Therapy School

Determine whether healthcare is the school’s primary focus or just one of many areas of interest. A college that only offers healthcare programs may be the right fit for you.

NMC, which was established in 1891, is an accredited, private, not-for-profit nursing, allied health and healthcare management college.

You’ll also want to make sure the school has high board pass rates for its healthcare programs, including respiratory therapy.

Take the Next Step to Get Your Respiratory Therapy Degree

Being a respiratory therapist means you’ll provide compassionate care to a diverse set of patients struggling with chronic respiratory diseases. It’s a meaningful and rewarding career that will allow you to make an impact on people’s lives.

Our Respiratory Therapy Program Comparison Worksheet will help you find the respiratory therapy degree program that is right for you.

Use it as your information checklist when you speak or correspond with program directors and/or admissions staff.

Your college selection is a personal choice, and one that we'd like to be a part of, whether or not you end up choosing NMC.

Unsure about which program to choose? Schedule a consultation with our academic advisors to learn more about our leading respiratory therapy program. Contact or 402-354-7200.

Topics: allied health career, health professions, respiratory care, bachelor's degree, associate's degree, allied health