Southwestern Illinois College Respiratory Care Program Coordinator Diane Dodd could have told you what a great profession Respiratory Care is even before U.S. News and World Report named it the 6th Best Health Care Job and the 16th Best Job in the country for 2022.
“Respiratory Therapists are essential frontline workers who help patients with a variety of respiratory and cardiac issues get better and get back to their healthy lifestyle,” Dodd said. “They play a vital role in hospitals and patient care.”
The magazine ranked the profession high on its list based on the combination of factors such as salary, job market, job satisfaction and stress level.
SWIC offers a two-year, 71-semester-credit Associate in Applied Science degree in Respiratory Care. The program prepares students for entry-level practitioner positions in the profession. Respiratory therapists have a high level of patient contact.
RTs, under the supervision of a physician, see patients of all ages to assist in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of pulmonary problems. The practice of respiratory care entails: monitoring, evaluating and reporting patients’ cardiopulmonary status, providing treatments and ventilatory support to keep the airway open. In addition, RT’s perform sleep studies, metabolic studies, patient, community and family education, home care, discharge planning and follow up, as well as pulmonary rehabilitation.
Applications for the SWIC program are accepted Sept. 1 through May 1 for the following fall semester.
Averaged over a three-year period, 98 percent of SWIC graduates passed the national certification examination required for licensure.
SWIC graduate survey results, also averaged over a three-year period, indicate 94.7 percent of graduates are employed in the profession within 12 months after completing the program.
“RTs are in high demand,” Dodd said. “There is a nationwide shortage and hospitals are looking for new graduates.”
According to the U.S. News and World Report article, the profession is expected to grow by 23 percent between 2020 and 2030, with an estimated 31,100 jobs opening in that time.
In addition, the median salary for Respiratory Therapists in the nation was $62,810 in 2020.
“The program is very hands on,” Dodd said. “Our students work in clinical facilities as part of their education and most students receive multiple job offers from their clinical sites before they even graduate.”