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Respiratory Therapy Program - Fargo, ND


To prepare students with the knowledge, skills and professional characteristics necessary to function as competent, advanced-level respiratory care practitioners, as defined by the National Board of Respiratory Care matrix.


The NDSU/Sanford Respiratory Care Program enrolls 12 students annually in the 15-month program and offers a curriculum leading to a registered respiratory therapist (RRT) status in the profession of Respiratory Care.

The Profession

Respiratory Care is an exciting field dedicated to helping patients with cardiopulmonary (heart-lung) disorders, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, trauma, and post-operative complications. The practice of Respiratory Care encompasses activities in diagnostic evaluation, therapy, and education of patients found in neonatal/pediatric units, adult general and intensive care units, pulmonary function labs, pulmonary rehabilitation and home care.

Diagnostic activities include obtaining and analyzing sputum and blood specimens, performing breathing studies to determine if lung function is impaired, performing sleep disorder studies, and interpreting the data obtained from these.

Therapy may include: administering medical gases and respiratory medications to alleviate breathing problems, applying and monitoring mechanical ventilatory and cardiovascular support, maintaining artificial airways, and performing bronchopulmonary hygiene procedures and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation activities.

Education of the patient, family and public promotes knowledge of cardiopulmonary disease, medical therapy and wellness. RTs practice under qualified medical direction while working closely with physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals to deliver direct bedside care to patients of all ages.

Career Opportunities

Students who successfully complete the program may take a series of examinations that lead to the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential. Graduates readily find employment in hospital, clinic, and home care settings throughout the United States. Opportunities also exist in management, education, sleep labs, research, sales and public health.

The demand for respiratory therapists is expected to continue to increase. As of January 2010, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects "employment of respiratory therapists to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2020." The need for RTs is expected to increase 28% for the period of 2010-2020. This increase is expected due to growth in the elderly population, and the numbers of patients with asthma and chronic lung disease.

The 2009 Human Resource Survey, conducted by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), found the mean salary for all RT positions is $62,000 annually.

College Affiliation and Accreditation

Since 1989, Sanford Health has been affiliated with North Dakota State University in offering the professional phase of a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Respiratory Care. The NDSU/Sanford Respiratory Care Program enrolls 12 students annually and offers a curriculum leading to a registered respiratory therapist (RRT) status in the profession of Respiratory Care. Upon completion of the fifteen-month program, a certificate of completion is awarded, qualifying the intern to apply for the National Board for Respiratory Care exams. Completion of an additional four-week clinical specialty is needed to obtain the baccalaureate degree. The Sanford RC program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Please visit the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) website for programmatic outcome data.

Application and Acceptance Process

Application to the program occurs spring semester each year. Students who will have completed the prerequisites (first two years of curriculum) by the start of the program are eligible to apply for one of twelve clinical program positions available at Sanford Health.

Admission to the program is selective. Admission is based upon successful completion of all program prerequisites (a minimum of 20 resident credits at NDSU), the student's grade point average, career motivation, personal references, and an interview. An Admissions' Committee will make the selections.

NDSU Curriculum Requirements

Contact Information

If you are interested in the profession and would like to participate in job shadowing please contact the appropriate person below.

High School Graduates:
Katie Nichelson
Phone: (701) 234-5935

NDSU Students:
Respiratory Care Advisor, Polly Olson
Phone: (701) 231-8133