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Respiratory Care Three + One Program

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Respiratory Care


Key Features of Respiratory Care at Gwynedd Mercy University

  • full functioning Respiratory Care Laboratory in a new “state-of-the-art” Health and Science Center
  • a new and expanded professional curriculum (three + one)
  • employability after only 3 years
  • salary ranges between $40,000.00 and $65,000.00 (median salary of $52,200.00)
  • # 3 on the list of “10 Jobs With Great Return on Investment” (US News and World Report – April 15, 2010) 
  • a 22% increase in employment for period 2008- 2018 (projected by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • affiliations with renowned major medical centers 
  • a dedicated, experienced and committed program and clinical faculty


Learn more about the program
Explaining Respiratory Care
Gwynedd Mercy's Career Ladder Approach
Career Opportunities
What Type of Academic Background Do I Need?
An Explanation of Clinicals
Tuition and Fees


For more information Contact our Program Director, Bill Galvin, MSEd, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC or call him at 215-641-5536 or


Program Faculty

Bill Galvin, MSEd, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC
Assistant Professor
Program Director
Barbara Schuster, MSEd, RRT
Assistant Professor
Director of Clinical Education
Ann Cusano, MSEd, RRT, CPFT
Assistant Professor
Laboratory Director

Respiratory Care is a rapidly growing Allied Health Profession concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of patients with abnormalities associated with the process of breathing. There are two levels of practice within the profession: (1) the Entry Level – Certified Respiratory Therapist, and (2) the Advanced Level – Registered Respiratory Therapist.


A Certified Respiratory Therapist is an entry-level person who has completed his/her education at an A.M.A. - approved school for respiratory therapists.  A vital member of the health care team, the entry-level therapist is responsible for treatments in such areas as:

  • Oxygen Therapy

  • Humidity and Aerosol Therapy

  • Chest Physical Therapy

  • Routine Pulmonary Function Testing. 

  • Basic Ventilator Management

  • Artificial Airway Care


The Respiratory Therapist is an advanced level person who has completed additional training and education at an A.M.A. approved school for respiratory therapists.  The therapist is a vital member of the health care team who may be responsible for:

  • Advanced Physical Assessment Techniques

  • Critical Care Monitoring

  • Blood Gas Analysis and Advanced Pulmonary Function Diagnostics

  • Advanced Ventilator Management

  • Home Care/ Alternate Site Care

  • Pediatric/ Neonatal Respiratory Care


Upon completion of the first three years at Gwynedd-Mercy College, the graduate will receive an Associate’s Degree of Science in Respiratory Care and will be eligible to sit for two national examinations given by the National Board for Respiratory Care. The first is the National Board for Respiratory Care’s Entry-Level or Certification Examination. If successful, the student will achieve the title of Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and be eligible to practice at the entry level.

At this point the student/ graduate may pursue the National Board for Respiratory Care’s Advanced Level or Registry Examination. This advanced-Level Examination consists of two-parts – a 100-item multiple-choice examination and a computerized clinical simulation examination consisting of 10 patient cases related to all aspects of cardiopulmonary disease. Upon successful completion of this exam, the therapist can distinguish him/ herself with the title of Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). 

The Registered Respiratory Therapist is the highest level of professional preparation within the profession. Registered Respiratory Therapists are prepared to practice in all areas of medicine – acute care, long term care, pediatric, neonatal, rehabilitation and home care. Becoming registered is the ultimate goal for all aspiring respiratory therapy professionals.




The program is a true career ladder in that the student can progress from one level to the next. (Three + one). The first three years (the “Three”) represents the Associate Degree and employment opportunities to practice first at the entry level (CRT) and then the advanced level (RRT). The final year (the “+1”) represents the baccalaureate degree and aspires professional leadership.  The two components and each of the four years are explained in more detail below.

The First Year
In short, the first year consist of general studies rich in the natural sciences, mathematics, and liberal disciplines. It is designed to prepare students for the respiratory care concentration courses taken in the second year. 
The Second Year

The second year entails course work in the art and science of respiratory care coupled with a Chemistry course in the Fall and Microbiology in the Spring. Respiratory care courses are didactic (classroom), laboratory, and clinical in nature. The didactic classes are designed to address the principles and concepts of the particular subject in question. The laboratory is designed for demonstration and practice and serves as an environment where the student can first experience the procedures and practices of respiratory care in a controlled and closely supervised manner. Many of the laboratory sessions are self-directed with assistance provided by the faculty as needed. The clinical courses are both observational and performance in nature. The student will first observe procedures and modalities with the intention of gaining confidence and familiarity. After exposure and observation, the student will perform procedures and modalities until competency is assessed. Competency is followed by repeated practice and skill refinement. The ultimate goal is mastery and a high degree of expertise. The clinical component will entail: clinical rotations in between semesters (approximately 2 weeks) that will serve as orientation to the hospital and to the respiratory therapy department, two days a week of clinical rotation during the second semester, and eight weeks of clinical rotations during the summer. The clinical component is competency-based which means that the student must demonstrate competency by successfully completing all designated procedures to satisfy the course requirements. Upon successful completion of all 200-level respiratory care courses and Chemistry and Microbiology (with a minimum grade of “C”  or better), the student will continue into the third year of the program.

The Third Year

The third year is the advanced level - therapist program, which consist of advanced topics in respiratory care coupled with a Statistics in the Fall and a Basic Communication course in  the Spring. The third year of the program is modeled after the second and consists of didactic (classroom), laboratory, and clinical courses. The didactic classes are designed to address advanced principles and concepts in a classroom environment while the laboratory is designed for demonstration and practice. Laboratory sessions will frequently entail presentations and demonstrations by physicians and other health care professionals with knowledge and expertise in a variety of advanced topics. The clinical courses are both observational and performance in nature. The student will observe advanced procedures and modalities with the intention of gaining confidence and familiarity. After exposure and observation, the student will perform procedures and modalities until competency is assessed. Competency is followed by repeated practice and skill refinement. The ultimate goal is mastery and a high degree of expertise. Students in the third year of the program are expected to possess a relatively high degree of expertise and mastery with entry-level skills. The clinical component of the third year will entail clinical rotations two days a week in both the Fall and Spring semesters and 2 weeks of clinical rotations in between semesters. Rotations are of an advanced nature and entail specialties, which are provided in 5-day blocks. The specialty rotations will occur in a variety of clinical sites to include: large university-teaching hospitals, pediatric and neonatal centers, community hospitals, and alternate care sites, such as home care and subacute care.


Upon successful completion of the third year of the program, the student will: 

(1) receive an Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Care, (2) be eligible to sit for the NBRC Entry Level Examination, and (3) apply for a temporary permit from the State of Pennsylvania and secure temporary employment as a graduate entry-level therapist .  The temporary permit becomes a permanent license once the graduate successfully completes the NBRC Entry-Level Examination. After completion of the NBRC Entry-Level Examination, the student is eligible to sit the NBRC Advanced-Level Examination and secure the title of Registered Respiratory therapist (RRT). The RRT credential is the terminal credential in the profession of respiratory care and the highest level of professional practice. Thus, employability can occur after only three years of education. Students must successfully complete the examination process to receive a license to practice in the state of Pennsylvania.

The Fourth Year

The fourth year is the baccalaureate level of the program. It is designed as a degree completion program that enhances the liberal arts and adds health science electives geared towards professional leadership in the areas of patient/ family education,  clinical education as a clinical preceptor or clinical instructor, wellness, and/or entry level management or supervision. The bachelor’s degree is designed to prepare a more well rounded graduate prepared to provide professional leadership and service. Successful completion of the NBRC Advanced Level Examination is a graduation requirement. 




Presently, there is a shortage of respiratory therapists throughout the country. The Philadelphia area is uniquely positioned with 6 medical schools and over 60 health care institutions within the metropolitan area. Few cities throughout the country enjoy the resources and high level of medical expertise as exist here. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22% increase in demand for respiratory therapists for the period 2008-2018. After completing the third year of the program, many students will pursue part time employment and continue progressing to the fourth year of the program for their bachelor’s degree and opportunities in leadership and/or service. 

In general, the entry-level credentialed graduate (CRT) will provide general respiratory care while the advanced-level credentialed graduate (RRT) will specialize in such areas as: Pulmonary Functions, Critical Care, Neonatal, Pediatrics, Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Home Care, Education and/or Management. 

Students who pass their national examination and become credentialed as Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) may work anywhere in the United States as well as in several foreign countries. Students should strive for the registry credential as this is the terminal credential and will afford the greatest degree of opportunity and advancement. 




A balanced high school program with three years of mathematics and satisfactory completion of chemistry or physics are core academic requirements.  In addition, applicants should possess good communication and interpersonal skills, integrity, a willingness to learn, and a strong desire to help people. Technical standards are available in the college catalog




Gwynedd Mercy University has a number of clinical sites throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.  Every effort will be made to place the student in a hospital that is most convenient to his/her residence.  However, final determination is based on educational needs/requirements as well as availability.




Aria Health Systems (Frankford Hospital) 

Torresdale Division

Red Lion & Knights Road

Philadelphia, PA 19114

Marc Schlesinger, RRT, RPFT

Kathy Punzo, RRT 

215-612-4010 (main)


Hospital of the University of PA

3400 Spruce Street

Philadelphia, PA  19101

Ed Tollock, BS, RRT

Carol Ingenuto, BS, RRT


Chester County Hospital

701 E Marshall St

West Chester, Pa 19380

Matt Buffler, BS, RRT

610-431-5000 X 5691

Jeanes Hospital

7600 Central Avenue

Philadelphia, Pa.  19111

Abby Tschope, RRT


Children's Hospital

34th & Civic Center Boulevard

Philadelphia, PA  19l04

Laurie Hough, RRT



Lankenau Hospital

Lancaster & City Line Avenues

Philadelphia, PA  19141

Michele Leach, BS, RRT

Howard Tomkowich,BS, RRT

610-645-2194 (6345)

Doylestown Hospital

595 West State St

US Route 202 and 611 Bypass

Doylestown, Pa.  18901

Chris Anderson, RRT

Carole Sheesley, RRT


Lehigh Valley Hospital Center

Cedar Crest Blvd. & I78

PO Box 689

Allentown, PA  18105

Angela Lutz, MBA, RRT

Ken Miller, BS, RRT, ACCS, AE-C

610-402-5772 (5762)

Einstein Montgomery Hospital

1300 Powell Street

Norristown, PA  19401

Tom Hennessey, RRT

215-270-2069 (2229)

Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia

54th & Cedar Avenue

Philadelphia, PA  l9l43

Ida Matthews, RRT

215-748-9105 (950l)

Fox Chase cancer center

333 Cottman Ave

Philadelphia, Pa 19111

Tricia Heinricks


Mercy Suburban Hospital

2701 Dekalb Pike

Norristown, PA  l9401

Mao Chann Pezzalla, MBA, RRT



Grandview Hospital

700 Lawn Avenue

Sellersville, PA  18960

Mark Paules, BS, RRT

Peggy Zeigler, RRT



Pennsylvania Hospital

800 Spruce St.

Philadelphia, Pa. 19107

Margie Pierce, MS, RRT, CPFT





Full-time tuition is as outlined in the most recent Undergraduate College Catalog, which includes all academic and clinical courses.  Students transferring from other institutions and attending on a part time basis will pay on a per credit rate basis.  Additional fees for books, uniforms, travel, parking, etc. are provided in the College Catalog or through the program administration.


Curriculum Design

The Three* plus One Career Ladder Model

The Three Year Model


Freshman Year (32)

FALL (15)

Anatomy & Physiology I & Lab              4

College English                                    3

Topics of Math                                     3

Intro Psychology                                  3

First Year Experience                            2



Anatomy & Physiology II & Lab             4

Physics for Allied Health                      3

Encountering Sacred Scriptures            3

Arts and Imagination                            3

Introduction Desktop Computing         3

First Year Experience Service                1


Sophomore Year (35)

FALL (17)

Introduction to Allied Health                 2

Respiratory Theory 1                             4

Respiratory Procedures 1                      1

Respiratory Pharmacology                     3

Cardio-Respiratory Physiology               3

Chemistry                                           3

Med terminology                                  1



Respiratory Theory II                           3

Respiratory Theory III                          3

Respiratory Procedures II                      1

Respiratory Procedures III                    1

Clinical Respiratory Care I                     3

Clinical Respiratory Care II                    3

Microbiology & Lab                              4


Junior Year (32)

FALL (16)

Advanced Respiratory Theory I              3

Advanced Respiratory Theory II             3

Advanced Respiratory Procedures I        1

Advanced Respiratory Procedures II       1

Advanced Respiratory Clinical  I             2

Respiratory Pathophysiology                 3

Statistics                                             3



Advanced Respiratory Theory III           3

Advanced Respiratory Procedures III      1

Advanced Respiratory Clinical II            3

Respiratory Research (Capstone)           3

Respiratory Seminar                              3

Communication Arts                             3


*Associate Degree in Respiratory Care and NBRC Certification Exam Eligibility followed by NBRC Registry Exam Eligibility


The Three** plus One Career Ladder Model

Senior Year (27)

FALL (15)

LLFA elective                                         3

Consensus & Conflict in History           3

Society & Global Diversity                     3

Encountering Ethics                              3

HA/HS elective                                     3



Phl or RS elective                                 3

Econ, Geo, His, Pol elective                 3

HA/ HS elective                                   3

HA/ HS elective                                   3


** Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Care