Advanced degree now offered in respiratory care
Millions of Americans suffer from cardiopulmonary disease and need specialized care from a respiratory therapist.
The Health Science Center is meeting the need with a new master of science degree in respiratory care. The two-year program began this fall and is open to current respiratory therapists and students with no prior health care experience.
“More than 34 million people have asthma in the United States, approximately 13 million suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which is the third leading cause of death in America,” said David C. Shelledy, Ph.D., RRT, FAARC, dean of the School of Health Professions. “Because of underdiagnosis, we believe the actual number of those suffering from COPD is closer to 24 million.”
Respiratory care, also known as respiratory therapy, is the allied health profession that provides care to patients with cardiopulmonary disease. A respiratory therapist cares for patients of various ages, from newborns to the elderly. Common illnesses include asthma, emphysema, COPD, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis and respiratory distress syndrome.
The new degree was created because of the complexity of the care needed by these patients, Dr. Shelledy said.
“The master’s degree will prepare individuals to provide specialized care and to serve as the clinical leaders in the field, especially in the acute care setting in intensive care units,” he said.
It will be only one of four such degrees in the country.