Undergraduate Respiratory Therapy

As a Respiratory Therapist, you will join a high demand field devoted to the study and treatment of diseases that relate to the lungs or cardiovascular system. Respiratory Therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing. Typical patients include: premature infants with undeveloped lungs, elderly patients with diseased lungs, patients with asthma or emphysema, and emergency care patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock. This is a great field if you are interested in health, biology, math, chemistry, and physics. 

To ensure the workforce is adequately prepared, the American Association for Respiratory Care recently called for a shift, such that all new respiratory care programs award, at a minimum, bachelor’s degrees in respirator care (American Association for Respiratory Care, 2016).  Edgewood College is currently the only program of its kind in the state of Wisconsin (Commission on Accreditation in Respiratory Care Education CoARC, 2018) to offer a bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Therapy.

Program Highlights

  • The Edgewood College Respiratory Therapy program is currently the only bachelor’s degree level Respiratory Therapy program in Wisconsin.
  • As a Medical Sciences major with a Respiratory Therapy concentration, you will complete three years of undergraduate academic study at Edgewood College. You’ll then apply for your clinical training in respiratory care in the first semester of your junior year. This clinical training is a highly competitive, accredited program with certification and employment success. The pre-professional curriculum has been designed to specifically improve your likelihood of acceptance. You interview in the spring of your junior year, and if accepted, continue your clinical education at Edgewood College and your clinicals at UW Health in your final year, including two summers. Upon completing your clinical training in respiratory therapy, you will be eligible to take the board test for certification in the summer after your senior year. You will graduate in August of your senior year.
  • Our liberal arts education, founded in the Dominican tradition, adds a strong foundation to the Respiratory Therapy program by strengthening your qualities of compassion, problem solving, and interpersonal communication.
  • Graduates are in high demand, as there currently is a shortage of certified respiratory therapists in Dane County.

Career Outcomes

Respiratory Therapists work in a variety of settings to provide direct patient care services where they provide and apply medical equipment.  

  • Clinical Respiratory Therapists work in adult, infant, and pediatric critical care units, sub-acute care facilities, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation centers, emergency departments, medical offices and clinics, cardiopulmonary diagnostic labs, sleep disorder centers, and community hospitals. 
  • Non-clinical Respiratory Therapists work for medical equipment manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies in sales, research, development, and as clinical applications specialists; some work in education, insurance, and business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the 10-year growth rate for respiratory therapists as 23.4% through 2026, which is higher than average growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019).  On average, Respiratory Therapists are highly paid skilled positions, earning $67,000 per year on average (salary.com).

Currently there is a shortage of respiratory therapists in Dane County to fill these highly paid positions. 

Admission Requirements

Applications for clinical training in respiratory care happen in the first semester of your Junior year. This clinical training is a highly competitive, accredited program with certification and employment success. The pre-professional curriculum has been designed to specifically improve your likelihood of acceptance. Once accepted, you will continue your clinical education at Edgewood College and your clinicals at UW Health in your final year, including two summers. When you complete your clinical training in respiratory therapy, you will be eligible to take the board test for certification in the summer after your senior year. You will graduate in August of your senior year.

Additional Requirements:  

  • You are required to shadow a respiratory therapist 4-8 hours prior to application to the respiratory therapy program. Please talk to your major advisor to request a shadowing experience through UW Health. 
  • An overall GPA of 2.5 on a 4 point scale for all pre-professional coursework is required. A GPA higher than the minimum is preferred and increases your chances of acceptance to your clinical training. In addition, a minimum of “C” grade must be earned in each prerequisite course, which includes all courses listed above except for courses listed as “COR or Gen Ed”. 
  • CPR for Healthcare Providers certification through the American Heart Association (AHA) training center is required prior to application in the respiratory care program and must be active during the clinical training.

Faculty Spotlight

  • Brenda del Moral

    Associate Professor
    BdelMoral@edgewood.edu