Respiratory Therapy Program

Help Heart & Lung Patients in 15 Months

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.

The NDSU/Sanford Respiratory Care Program is based at the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota. The 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.

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

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 studies.

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 diseases, medical therapy and wellness. Respiratory therapists 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 hospitals, clinics and home care settings throughout the country. Opportunities also exist in management, education, sleep labs, research, sales and public health.

The demand for respiratory therapists is expected to continue to increase. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of respiratory therapists to grow 19% from 2019 to 2029. This increase is expected due to growth in the middle-aged and elderly population and the number of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. The bureau reports the median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $61,330 in May 2019.

Learn more about respiratory therapy occupation outlooks.

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 in respiratory care. The Sanford respiratory therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

See our program’s outcomes: job placement, graduate satisfaction, on-time graduation rate and more.

Application and Acceptance Process
Application to the program occurs in the spring semester each year. Students who will have completed the prerequisites (first two years of the curriculum) by the start of the program are eligible to apply for one of 12 clinical program positions available at Sanford Health.

Admission to the program is selective. Admission is based on successful completion of all program prerequisites, the student's grade point average, career motivation, personal references and an interview. An admissions committee makes the selections.

NDSU Curriculum Requirements