Stritch to offer first bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy

Monday, December 16, 2013 7:45:00 PM

The Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing has announced plans to begin several new programs, including a post-licensure Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion program that is the first to be offered in the state of Wisconsin. 

In addition, the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) program will add a new concentration in nursing leadership. 

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion Program

The new Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion Program will allow existing respiratory therapists an opportunity to advance their careers by completing a bachelor’s degree. The program will be offered online and is designed to take two years to complete. The anticipated start date is fall 2014.

Although associate degree programs in respiratory therapy can be found across the state, Stritch will be the first institution of higher education in Wisconsin to offer a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, which will fill a critical need within healthcare across the state.  

A recent study conducted by the American Association for Respiratory Care reiterated that the current healthcare environment requires more skills than ever before. The volume of knowledge and skills that a respiratory therapy student must learn increases yearly, yet the amount of hours in the classroom, lab and clinical settings are limited at the associate degree level. 

“Due to the increasing complexity of healthcare and federal regulation changes, the healthcare community is asking for respiratory therapists to be prepared at the baccalaureate level,” said Kelly Dries, dean of the College of Nursing. “Stritch is excited to be giving practicing respiratory therapists the first opportunity for advancement beyond an associate degree within Wisconsin.”

The online format of the program will allow students the flexibility to further their education while maintaining their work schedule. For students who seek a face-to-face delivery format, the program will offer some optional in-person classroom time within each course. Based upon need, separate online and face-to-face versions of the program may be implemented in the future. 

The program will require 31 online respiratory therapy-specific credits. An additional 19 credits of liberal arts and science credits will also be required. Additional program details, including tuition rates and the admission process, are still being finalized. 

To ease the admissions process, Stritch is creating an articulation agreement with the seven Wisconsin technical colleges that offer an associate degree in respiratory therapy, allowing all “70” respiratory therapy credits to transfer into Stritch.  

Master of Science in Nursing -- Leadership Concentration

In addition, the College of Nursing will begin offering a new concentration in nursing leadership within its successful Master of Science in Nursing program, which has prepared nurse educators for positions in academic, community and service settings since 1999. 

The MSN- Leadership strand is designed to fill a critical need of developing leaders in nursing management and administration. 

“Recent data has clearly indicated that nurses should achieve higher levels of education and be full partners with physicians and other healthcare professionals to advance health and healthcare,” said Dries. “We believe that a new concentration in leadership for the MSN program is timely and very much needed as evidenced by current professional trends and market demands.” 

Courses in this new leadership concentration will be offered in a blended format, which means student will complete their studies both in person and online. The new concentration will use 18 of the existing MSN credits, which have been designated as “core nursing” courses. The remaining 17 credits will provide the leadership concentration through a collaboration with the College of Education and Leadership. 

Please check for regular updates and additional information on both of these programs. 

The Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing has provided high-quality nursing education since 1980. At that time, Stritch took over a program run by the Sacred Heart School of Practical Nursing that prepared licensed practical nurses and began offering an Associate in Science degree in nursing to meet new state requirements. A bachelor in nursing program was established in 1983, and a master’s degree in nursing was added in 1998, which focused on nurse educators.  Stritch was the first institution of higher education in Wisconsin to offer such a degree.  In April 2003, the college was named in honor of benefactor Ruth S. Coleman, for her continuing support of nursing education.