CCAC Respiratory Therapy program celebrates Respiratory Care Week

Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-Community College of Allegheny County's Respiratory Therapy program is celebrating National Respiratory Care Week, Oct. 22 to 28, with activities designed to promote respiratory health. On Tuesday, second-year students at Allegheny Campus offered a number of screening and breathing tests to fellow students, faculty and staff while educating participants about the program and the profession. Whether it's neonatal pediatrics, geriatrics, emergency care, pulmonary rehabilitation, acute care, home care, sleep or another specialty, the role of a respiratory therapist is to restore and improve lung heath to patients' lives.

"Respiratory therapists are an asset to any medical team," said Thomas Kallstrom, American Association for Respiratory Care executive director and CEO. "Their unique skills and training, paired with genuine compassion for patient care, provide invaluable services to the overall patient experience."

The profession is ideal for individuals who like helping others and who want an exciting career with good pay and advancement opportunities. The Respiratory Therapy Associate of Science program at CCAC Allegheny Campus boasts a 100 percent placement rate, according to Richard Laurent, program coordinator of Respiratory Therapy and department chair, Allied Health. All 12 students who will graduate in December already have jobs-and at a starting salary of $24 an hour, their earning potential is very good. Clinical internships occur in Pittsburgh's world class medical centers where many graduates are employed. 

"These students are getting into this profession at the right time, as the first wave of professionals is retiring," said Laurent, who graduated with the first cohort of the CCAC Respiratory Therapy program in the 1970s. "Right now, they can almost pick their place of employment. The fact we have such a great medical community here is an asset to the program."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. This is also due to growth in the middle-aged and elderly populations, which will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia.

CCAC offers a Respiratory Therapy day program that starts in the fall, as well as an evening and weekend program for non-traditional students that begins in May, with open enrollment all year. The evening program recruits a lot of individuals who have a degree in another field but who are underemployed or are looking for a career change.

To learn more about CCAC's Respiratory Therapy program, visit ccac.edu/Respiratory_Therapy_Page.aspx. For more information, contact Richard Laurent at rlaurent@ccac.edu or 412.237.2704. 

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