Respiratory Therapist Program (BHS)

BHS in Respiratory Care

Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Respiratory Care

Gwynedd Mercy University’s bachelor of health science (BHS) degree in respiratory care offers a clear path to a career as a respiratory therapist. First-year students can begin their college journey in this BHS program; it also serves as a degree completion program for AS degree graduates and RRTs.

The program is part of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, distinguished as an innovative and leading program with a long and celebrated history of preparing competent, caring and compassionate respiratory therapists. For years, GMercyU has been known as one of the leading schools for respiratory therapy. 

Here, you can acquire the value of a four-year degree from a program that’s accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and University Commission on Higher Education.

The Respiratory Care program, Associate of Science and Bachelor of Health Science degrees, offered on our Gwynedd Valley campus, is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, www.coarc.com.*  You can view our current accreditation status here. CoARC accredits respiratory therapy education programs in the United States. To achieve this end, it utilizes an ‘outcomes based’ process. Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the educational goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented. The School CoARC number is 200274.


Outstanding Pass Rates

GMercyU respiratory care students have a 100% pass rate on the Certified Respiratory Therapist exam (administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care) and 100% pass rate on the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 the program was recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) to receive the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award with a 90+% pass rate over the 3-year cycle.

Here, you'll earn the highest level of professional preparation within the field of respiratory care. All graduates of our bachelor’s degree program are:

  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), which is the entry-level credential
  • Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT), which is the highest level of credential

Our respiratory therapy program curriculum will take you beyond entry-level capabilities, and teach you advanced-level respiratory care skills. Your clinical rotations will expose you to university teaching hospitals, pediatric and neonatal centers, community hospitals and alternate care sites.

Program Details

Choose GMercyU's Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Care to:

  • Progress in a career ladder approach (a 3+1 model, with the first 3 years representing the Associate Degree and the final year being a degree completion culminating in the Bachelor of Health Science Degree)
  • Gain hands-on experience through GMercyU’s 21 regional health care affiliations 
  • Get a head start on your career with full employment eligibility after year three
  • Participate in a fulfilling and exciting learning experience with the personal attention you need 
  • Attend courses taught by our experienced faculty who are published and present at state, national and international conferences and conventions
  • Experience GMercyU’s state-of-the-art Respiratory Care Laboratory with cutting edge technology and a comprehensive array of equipment, models, mannequins, and simulators

As a graduate with a bachelor of health science in respiratory care, you’ll have first-hand experience, and be prepared to:

  • Use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and competently treat patients with cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Administer oxygen therapy, deliver inhaled medications, and initiate and maintain life support equipment, such as mechanical ventilators, among other responsibilities
  • Work in large academic medical centers, community hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long term care, and even the home care setting
  • Provide care for patients of all ages (from newborns to children, to adults and the elderly)
  • Enter entry-level leadership positions in education or management/ supervision

In addition to general education coursework, you will complete the following courses:

Respiratory Care Courses:  63 Credits

RC 200 Introduction to AH - 2 Credits
RE 210 Medical Terminology – 1 Credit
RC 230 Respiratory Theory I – 4 Credits
RE 231 Respiratory Theory II – 3 Credits
RC 232 Respiratory Theory  III – 3 Credits
RC 233 Respiratory & Cardiac Physiology – 3 Credits
RC 234 Respiratory Pharmacology – 3 Credits
RC 240  Respiratory Procedures I – 1 Credit
RC 241 Respiratory Procedures II – 1 Credit
RC 242 Respiratory Procedures III – 1 Credit
RC 250 Clinical Respiratory Care I – 3 Credits
RC 251  Clinical Respiratory Care  II – 3 Credits
RC 330  Advanced Respiratory Theory I – 3 Credits
RC 331  Advanced Respiratory Theory II – 3 Credits
RC 332 Advanced Respiratory Theory III – 3 Credits
RC 333 Respiratory Pathophysiology – 3 Credits
RC 334  RC Research – Capstone – 3 Credits
RC 335 Respiratory Seminar – Capstone – 3 Credits
RC 340  Advanced Respiratory Procedures I – 1 Credit
RC 341  Advanced Respiratory Procedures II – 1 Credit
RC 342 Advanced Respiratory Procedures III – 1 Credit
RC 350  Advanced Clinical Respiratory I – 2 Credits
RC 351  Advanced Clinical Respiratory II – 3 Credits 
HA/HS Elective (3)


Credit Requirement
A minimum of 126 credits is required for the bachelor’s degree in respiratory care. See the undergraduate catalog for more information and course descriptions.


Undergraduate Minors
Increase the value of your associates in respiratory therapy degree by adding an undergraduate minor that best meets your personal and professional goals.

William R. (Randy) Solly MS RRT RPFT


William R. (Randy) Solly MS RRT RPFT
Position: Professor of Practice and Program Coordinator, Respiratory Care
Did You Know? Solly has presented at the local, state, and national levels on topics such as pulmonary function testing, updated spirometry standards, interventional bronchoscopy, disaster medicine, and health care provider burnout.
Read bio

 

 William Galvin
William Galvin, MSEd, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC
Position: 
Professor Emeritus, Respiratory Care
Did You Know? Galvin authored and edited the 60-chapter comprehensive textbook, Respiratory Care: Principles and Practice, which has been adopted and used by RC students nationally. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards.
Read bio

 

 Melissa Thornborough, RRT, RRT-ACCS, AE-C
Melissa Thornborough, RRT, RRT-ACCS, AE-C

Position: Instructor and the Director of Clinical Education, Respiratory Care
Did You Know? She has worked at Jefferson Abington Hospital as a staff therapist for most of her career -- the last nine years, serving as supervisor. She is still currently on staff on an as-needed basis.
Read bio

 

 Melissa Ash, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS
Melissa Ash, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS

Position: Instructor, Respiratory Care
Did You Know? Ash holds specialty credentials in both Critical Care and Neonatal/Pediatrics. She has presented at both state conferences and international conferences and has been published multiple times. 
Read bio

 

 Barbara Shuster
Barbara Schuster, MSEd, RRT

Position: Assistant Professor, Respiratory Care
Did You Know? Schuster's specialties include Acute Care, Advance Cardiac Life Support, Invasive Cardiac Monitoring, Cardiopulmonary Anatomy & Physiology, and Neonatal & Pediatrics. 
Read bio

 

In 2020, 2021, and 2022, all GMercyU respiratory care graduates secured immediate employment in top area institutions.

Juniors in our program are already being recruited, some with signing bonuses and other compelling incentives. 

—Randy Solly, MS RRT RPFT, Professor of Practice and Program Coordinator of the Respiratory Care Program

Real-World Opportunities

Here are some of the places where GMercyU’s Respiratory Care majors have gained practical, hands-on experience locally.  Some students choose to go to other regions of the country to gain hands-on experience and training.

  • Abington Memorial Hospital
  • Aria Health Systems (Frankford Hospitals)
  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America
  • Chester County Hospital
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Doylestown Hospital
  • Einstein Montgomery Hospital
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center
  • Grandview Hospital
  • HCR Manor Care
  • The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Jeanes Hospital
  • Lankenau Hospital
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital Center
  • Lehigh Valley Medical Center and Health Care System
  • Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Montgomery Einstein Hospital
  • Mercy Suburban Hospital
  • Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center

Demand for Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists have cared for an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients who've required advanced and life-sustaining ventilator care. Yet even before the pandemic, there was an urgent need for more respiratory therapists due to an aging population and an increase in chronic diseases such as asthma and COPD. 

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 23% increased demand for respiratory therapists through 2030 – almost double the expected growth of all healthcare jobs and nearly three times the growth of all occupations. 

 

Best Healthcare Job

Respiratory care has been recognized as a career with a great return on investment. In 2022, the profession ranks #6 on U.S. News’ list of “Best Health Care Jobs” and #16 on their “100 Best Jobs” list. 


Average Salary for Respiratory Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $61,830 in May 2021, with the top 10% earning more than $95,540.

Possible Careers for Respiratory Care Majors

  • Clinician
  • Diagnostician
  • Adult critical care specialist
  • Pulmonary function technologist 
  • Sleep technologist 
  • Asthma educator
  • Neonatal/ pediatric specialist
  • Patient advocate
  • Tobacco cessation counselor
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation specialist
  • Clinical preceptor

Areas of Specialization 

  • Medical/ surgical care
  • Adult Critical Care
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatrics
  • Pulmonary diagnostics

Additional education and training may be required for some of these positions.

As a respiratory therapist, you’ll use a combination of physical examination and sophisticated technology to diagnose and treat patients with cardiopulmonary disorders. You will learn to administer oxygen therapy, deliver inhaled medications, and initiate and monitor patients on life support, such as mechanical ventilators.

This fulfilling work can take you to a variety of settings, from hospitals to home care, and provides the opportunity to work with patients of all ages, from neonatal to elderly.

noelbeers.jpg
Noel Beers '23

Noel majors in Respiratory Care, serves as Vice President of Voices of Gwynedd, and is an EMS worker in his downtime. He loves the warmth of the GMercyU community and the access he has to his professors.

"If my respiratory care professors have specific office hours, I wouldn't even know. I feel comfortable just stopping by to ask questions, and I know my fellow students have the same mindset," says Noel. Read more about Noel's GMercyU experience.

Morgan Roberston '22

 

Morgan Robertson '22, RRT
"I absolutely love the Respiratory Therapy program. This specific program is spoken highly of from many Respiratory Therapists (RTs), nurses, and even physicians throughout surrounding hospitals," said Morgan, who also enjoyed GMercyU's small size, and how it meant that you could easily get one-on-one help if needed.

After graduation, she began working at Abington Jefferson Hospital. Read more about Morgan's GMercyU experience.

 

Josephine Okyere '22
Josephine Okeyere ​'22, RRT

At GMercyU, Josephine served as a member of the Student Activities Committee, Black Student Union, and the Women’s Tennis team. In the Respiratory Care program, she completed numerous clinicals — she was offered and accepted a position as a Respiratory Therapist at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, one of her clinical sites, before graduating.

“I would recommend GMercyU because it's a great place to learn, get involved in various clubs and organizations, and meet great lifelong friends,” she said. Read more about Josephine's GMercyU experience.


Catherine Hay
Catharine Hay '21, RRT

Catherine's first clinical experience confirmed that she was on the right career path. "When I placed my stethoscope on the patient’s back to listen to their breath sounds, I had a moment that made me realize that I was about to embark on a career that makes a huge difference," she said.

Catharine landed her job as an RRT at the Lehigh Valley Health Network before she graduated, and loves what she does for a living.  Read more about Catharine's GMercyU experience.

 

Omar Duggan
Omar Duggan '16, RRT

"[GMercyU] is more of a family-oriented school. Everyone’s really close, and the teachers really care about you and want you to succeed," said Omar. “My clinical work at HUP and at Magee made me see many different types of patients – and some of the equipment I used I haven’t even seen yet at my current hospital.” 

Today, he is a respiratory therapist at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. Omar has also worked for Electromed, Inc., the company that makes SmartVest®, a device that helps keep airways clear for patients prone to illnesses such as pneumonia. Read more about Omar's GMercyU experience.

As a new graduate and a new employee in this field, I can honestly say that I truly love what I do. I am proud to call myself a GMercyU graduate for this reason. 

Catharine Hay' 21, RRT

More About Respiratory Care

Throughout the pandemic, respiratory therapists have cared for an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients who've required advanced and life-sustaining ventilator care.

Yet even before COVID, there was an urgent need for more respiratory therapists due to an aging population and an increase in chronic diseases such as asthma and COPD. COPD is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., and the number of diagnosed asthmatics continues to rise.

Earning your bachelor’s degree in respiratory care will qualify you to specialize and focus on the lungs and the heart, and to secure specialty credentials in areas such as adult critical care, neonatal/ pediatrics, pulmonary function testing, and asthma education. Additionally, you will be prepared to work in pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep medicine, and home care.

You may also pursue leadership roles as a respiratory care supervisor, department director, clinical preceptor, classroom educator, disease manager, and/or in patient advocacy.

Demand for Respiratory Therapists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 23% increased demand for respiratory therapists through 2030 – almost double the expected growth of all healthcare jobs and nearly three times the growth of all occupations. 

 

Best Healthcare Job

Respiratory care has been recognized as a career with a great return on investment. In 2022, the profession ranks #6 on U.S. News’ list of “Best Health Care Jobs” and #16 on their “100 Best Jobs” list. 


Average Salary for Respiratory Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $61,830 in May 2021, with the top 10% earning more than $95,540.

Possible Careers for Respiratory Care Majors

  • Clinician
  • Diagnostician
  • Adult critical care specialist
  • Pulmonary function technologist 
  • Sleep technologist 
  • Asthma educator
  • Neonatal/ pediatric specialist
  • Patient advocate
  • Tobacco cessation counselor
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation specialist
  • Clinical preceptor
  • Shift supervisor
  • Department manager
  • Classroom/laboratory instructor
  • Program director
  • Director of clinical education

*This is only a partial list and not meant to limit you. Additional education and training may be required for some of these positions.

Areas of Specialization 

  • Medical/ surgical care
  • Adult Critical Care
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatrics
  • Pulmonary diagnostics

Additional education and training may be required for some of these positions.

Respiratory therapy is the study of issues affecting patients' hearts and lungs. Respiratory therapists evaluate, diagnose and treat heart and lung issues, including chronic diseases and emergencies. They may work in hospitals, long-term care facilities or in patients' home.

Respiratory therapists diagnose and treat lung and heart problems in patients. They work as part of the medical team that administers medications, manages airways, and conducts rehabilitation activities. Here are some other job responsibilities:

  • Manage ventilation machines
  • Assess lung capacity
  • Perform diagnostic tests
  • Develop and implement treatment plans
  • Consult with physicians
  • Monitor and record progress of treatment plans
  • Educate patients about diseases and their treatments

Next Steps

Have questions about GMercyU's admissions requirements or transferring eligible credits? Our Admissions staff is ready to walk you through the process of applying to GMercyU’s BHS in Respiratory Care Program.

Email: admissions@gmercyu.edu
Phone: 215-641-5510

Apply now

Please note: Students enrolling in this program must have the ability to obtain a U.S. background check and other clearances for placement in a U.S. clinical/school setting. U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is also a requirement for licensure within certain academic programs. International students and students who are under DACA status or are undocumented should carefully review the licensure requirements in their state before enrolling in a degree program that leads to licensure. Additional information can be found on the National Conference of State Legislatures website

Licensure: This program was designed to meet the licensure requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you reside in a different state, you should carefully review your home state’s licensure requirements prior to enrolling in this program. For more information, please visit our Program Licensure Requirement page.

As a field with tremendous demand, respiratory therapy is a smart career move. Credits from your bachelor's degree may already count towards a GMercyU associate degree in Respiratory Care, allowing you to become a respiratory therapist in as few as 20 months.

Find out how many credits from your bachelor's degree are transferable — contact our transfer admissions counselor, Emma Campbell at campbell.e1@gmercyu.edu.

(Students earning a second undergraduate degree generally are not eligible for federal financial aid.)

At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

Gwynedd Mercy University offers a wide range of educational advantages, making it one of the most prominent Baccalaureate Respiratory Care Programs in PA. Start your journey today!

Apply now