Bachelor of science degree education programs: organization, structure, and curriculum

Respir Care Clin N Am. 2005 Sep;11(3):401-15. doi: 10.1016/j.rcc.2005.04.014.


Therapists with bachelor's degrees in respiratory therapy have become the new advanced clinicians of the twenty-first century. Although the opportunity has increased in recent years, earning a baccalaureate degree in respiratory therapy remains a limited option. The "2-year preprofessional plus 2-year respiratory therapy" is the most popular curriculum design, but several other notable designs also fulfill the definition of a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy. Two landmark documents issued in 2003 make strong arguments for expanding opportunities for baccalaureate education in respiratory therapy. Recognizing the "need to increase the number of respiratory therapists with advanced levels of training and education to meet the demands of providing services requiring complex cognitive abilities and patient management skills," the American Association for Respiratory Therapy has strongly encouraged the continuing development of baccalaureate education. Strategies for expanding baccalaureate opportunities include increasing the number and capacities of traditional programs, creating more articulation and bridge agreements between community and junior colleges with 4-year colleges and universities, and offering baccalaureate respiratory therapy through distance education. For the profession of respiratory therapy to require a baccalaureate at entry level, expansion of baccalaureate education will be necessary, and educators, managers, practitioners, and professional leaders will need to pursue all viable strategies. As an interim phase in the evolution of the profession, Becker suggests a strategy of"reprofessionalism" aimed at assisting therapists currently in the workforce to complete their degrees. Through a combination of strategies, a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy will inevitably become the standard for clinicians in the decades to come.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / education
  • Allied Health Personnel / organization & administration
  • Allied Health Personnel / trends
  • Curriculum / standards
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / trends
  • Education, Professional / organization & administration
  • Education, Professional / standards
  • Education, Professional / trends
  • Humans
  • Program Development*
  • Respiratory Therapy / education
  • Respiratory Therapy / trends
  • Science / education*
  • Science / organization & administration
  • Science / trends
  • United States