PBSC Respiratory Care program earns national award

Dr. Nancy Latimer observes students in the Respiratory Care laboratory on the Palm Beach Gardens campus. Respiratory therapists provide therapeutic and diagnostic services to treat chronic and life-threatening breathing disorders.

The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care has tapped Palm Beach State College’s Respiratory Care Associate in Science degree program to receive its Distinguished RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) Credentialing Success Award.

CoARC, the nonprofit accreditation organization dedicated to respiratory care, presents this national award annually to highlight the RRT credential as the profession’s standard of excellence and recognize the CoARC-accredited programs that have the most graduates achieving it. Graduates of CoARC-accredited programs in the U.S. are eligible to take the RRT credentialing exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care, and upon passing, become registered respiratory therapists.

Based on rigorous CoARC accreditation standards, the award goes to programs that document an RRT credentialing exam pass rate of 90% or above; have three or more years of outcomes data; hold CoARC accreditation without citations; and meet or exceed established CoARC thresholds for certified respiratory therapist (CRT) credentialing success, retention and on-time graduation rates.

Out of approximately 460 CoARC-accredited programs in the country, Palm Beach State’s is one of 139 that received the award this year. PBSC also received the award in 2015.

“It’s a great honor to once again receive this prestigious honor by our accrediting body,” said Nancy Latimer, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Respiratory Care program. “Our graduates are in demand at health care facilities throughout Palm Beach County and the nation, providing critical care to patients suffering from breathing disorders. The award also shines a light on our dedicated faculty, as well as the clinical preceptors, supervisors and department managers at our clinical sites, who prepare the students to pass the RRT exam and excel in this challenging field.”

Latimer will receive a certificate of recognition during a reception to be held July 20 at the American Association for Respiratory Care Summer Forum in Fort Lauderdale.

Based on the Palm Beach Gardens campus, the Respiratory Care A.S. degree program was the first of its kind in Palm Beach County when it began in 1989. Edward W. Willey, the program’s first director of clinical education, currently serves as dean of academic affairs for the Palm Beach Gardens campus and will soon move into the same role for the Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves campuses. Willey stresses the impact of the Respiratory Care program’s advisory board members, many of whom were his students and now hold management positions at Palm Beach County hospitals.

“Our advisory board and community partners have always been integral to the program’s success,” Willey said. “In addition to their time and expertise, they provide our students with exceptional clinical internships at their facilities, where they personally offer guidance and mentorship. It all adds up to results—our students graduate on time, pass their boards and launch successful careers in this field.”

As in many health care professions, the aging population is expected to drive the need for respiratory therapists, who serve patients with breathing problems, such as asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The profession is expected to grow 23 percent by 2026, and in 2018, respiratory therapists took home an average salary of $60,280, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In addition to its CoARC accreditation, PBSC’s Respiratory Care program is recognized by the American Medical Association.

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