Respiratory Care Program


The Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care Degree Program is a 21-month course of study (four semesters and one summer session) combining didactic and clinical respiratory courses with supporting general education knowledge. Trinity and its predecessor hospitals have been involved in respiratory care education since 1965. In January 1980 the program sponsorship transferred from Lutheran Hospital to Black Hawk College, Moline, Illinois which assumed program responsibility with local hospital financial support. That program remained active until 2000 when it was discontinued. In 2004, planning initiatives were identified in Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences’ Strategic Planning document to include offering additional health science programs based on assessed needs. The College received authority to grant the degree from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) in December 2005. Initial accreditation was received July 2010 from the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

Occupational Description

Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, emergency departments, intensive care units, neonatal intensive care units, in diagnostic laboratories, offices, clinics and homes.

Job Description

The following represents the knowledge and skills required of the advanced level graduate respiratory therapist, working under the supervision of a physician:
  • Applies scientific principles for the identification, prevention, remediation, and rehabilitation of acute and chronic cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Reviews existing data, collects additional data, and recommends additional tests to evaluate the respiratory status of patients
  • Uses clinical data to develop a respiratory care plan and determine the appropriateness of the prescribed therapy
  • Initiates, conducts and modifies prescribed therapeutic and diagnostic procedures including but not limited to: administering medical gases, providing humidification, delivering therapeutic aerosols and airway clearance modalities; initiating CPR, providing mechanical ventilator support; maintaining artificial and natural airways; performing pulmonary function studies, hemodynamic and other physiologic monitoring; and collecting specimens of blood and sputum for analyses
  • Documents necessary information in the patient’s medical record and on other forms. Communicates necessary information to the other members of the health care team while adhering to the rules and laws respecting confidentiality and privacy
  • Obtains, assembles, operates, and monitors necessary equipment
  • Uses problem solving to identify and correct malfunctions of respiratory care equipment
  • Demonstrates appropriate interpersonal skills to work productively with patients, families, physicians, staff, and co-workers
  • Accepts directives, does not discriminate, and upholds the ethical standards of the profession
  • Demonstrates awareness of cultural diversity

Program Description

The 75 semester hour Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care degree curriculum includes 51 respiratory care and 24 general education semester hours of credit. General education courses promote the practice of oral and written communication skills and utilization of human and social awareness to promote reflective thinking and problem solving. Application of general education knowledge is an expectation for today’s health care graduates.
The dedicated curriculum prepares the graduate to practice as an advanced level registered respiratory therapist. The curriculum is primarily sequential, combining theory classes and clinical experiences to facilitate mastering the learning process.
The student develops communication and problem- solving skills as well as learning to work with other members of the health care team. Emphasis is placed on developing skills that allow the student to provide culturally congruent patient care that is effective as well as compassionate.
Students are assigned clinical experiences using the facilities of Unity Point Health and health institutions within the bi-state area. The affiliated institution of Unity Point Health, Trinity consists of two campuses located in Illinois, one in Rock Island and one in Moline plus a third campus in Bettendorf, Iowa. The institutions are all acute care facilities providing a comprehensive approach to health care in both Illinois and Iowa. Students are assigned clinical rotations at all three campuses, local health care institutions, and additional neonatal acute care experience at a Level II regional institution in the final semester of the program.
The Respiratory Care Program requires that all graduates demonstrate competence in didactic coursework and a specified list of clinical competencies.

Drug Testing

Some selected clinical sites may require a drug screen prior to entering the facility. This screen will be arranged though the College. The cost of the drug screen will be self-pay.

Respiratory Care Observation

Accepted Respiratory Care students are encouraged to complete a four-hour observation in a Respiratory Care clinical setting prior to matriculation into the program. The faculty arranges the clinical observation after acceptance in the program.

Program Philosophy

The Respiratory Care Program prepares students to become competent advanced level respiratory therapists, who display excellence in both performance and attitude. We, the faculty believe the specialized nature of Respiratory Care requires not only technical expertise, but also humane, empathetic and professional behavior directed toward patient care. We expect students to strive for excellence in the classroom, laboratory and in clinical practice.

Program Goals
To prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).
Graduates will be able to:

Knowledge (Cognitive)

  • Apply knowledge of respiratory care and general education courses to think reflectively and problem solve.

Proficiency (Psychomotor)

  • Function as an advanced level practitioner in multiple care settings
  • Communicate effectively to promote a therapeutic environment with individuals, groups, and other members of the health care team.

Culture Care (Affective)

  • Demonstrate professionalism in the practice of respiratory care within ethical and legal guidelines.

Program Core Values

Faculty believes the following statements provide the essential guidelines of implementing the Respiratory Care Program.
  • All enrolled students have the ability and desire to learn and deserve equal educational opportunities and treatment from faculty and staff regardless of race, color, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin.
  • Learning occurs best when students are active participants in structured, guided clinical and didactic experiences. The curriculum incorporates communication, humanities, social and biologic sciences to support and enhance respiratory education and practice.
  • A quality curriculum provides measurable outcomes and learning activities that promote integration of theory, use of current technology, competent clinical practice and professional values.
  • The student’s desire to learn is supported by a safe and progressive learning environment rich in experiences that address intellectual, creative, emotional, and physical needs.
  • The graduate earns the opportunity to seek certification and licensure as an advanced respiratory care practitioner in the health care community and to enhance avenues for life-long learning.


Upon completion of respiratory care curriculum, an eligible graduate earns the opportunity to sit for the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC), entry level (CRT) and advanced level (RRT) examinations.
National Board for Respiratory Care, Inc.
18000 West 105th Street
Olathe, Kansas 66061
The Entry-Level Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination is designed to objectively measure essential knowledge, skills and abilities required of entry level respiratory therapists. The examination consists of 160 multiple-choice questions distributed among three major content areas: clinical data, equipment and therapeutic procedures. Individuals who achieve passing scores will be awarded the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.
The Registered Respiratory Therapist Exam (RRT) measures essential knowledge, skills and abilities required of advanced respiratory therapists and sets uniform standards for measuring such knowledge. The CRT credential is a prerequisite for admission to the Registry Examination. The Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) examinations consist of a written portion and a clinical simulation portion. Individuals who achieve passing scores on both will be awarded the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.
Registered Respiratory Therapists must provide evidence that they are continuing to meet current standards of practice and have successfully renewed their national credentials issued by the NBRC.
Policies for licensure vary with each state. In general, a student with a felony conviction may have difficulty in obtaining a state license. An individual application is reviewed on a case by case basis. The decision is not made until the individual makes application for a license to practice respiratory care. Applicants with felony convictions are encouraged to contact the licensing agency in the state in which they wish to practice.

Attendance Policy

All students are expected to attend classes on a full time basis, which consists of a maximum of 40 hours per week, relative to the particular term of study. The Respiratory Care curriculum does not allow for part time study.

Lab/Clinical Contact Hour Description

In the Respiratory Care Program, one lab course credit is presented as 32 hours of activity over the term of the course and one clinical semester hour is presented as 64 hours of activity over the term of the course. For example, for a semester length 16 week course, one lab semester hour of credit requires two hours of lab activity. For a half-semester eight-week course, one clinical semester hour of credit requires eight hours of clinical activity per week (for 8 weeks). Course faculty may offer individual schedule variations.

Dress Code

In addition to strict adherence to the College dress code policy concerning name badges, grooming, and jewelry, students on clinical rotations must wear/carry:
  • The program uniform
  • Stethoscope
  • Watch with a second hand
  • White lab coat (recommended)

Respiratory Grading Scale

Grade Quality Points Value Significance
A 4.0 93-100 Excellent
B 3.0 85-92 Good
C 2.0 77-84 Satisfactory
D 1.0 68-76 Unsatisfactory
F 0 0-67 Failure
I     Incomplete
WP     Withdrawal Passing
WF     Withdrawal Failing

Clinical Grading Scale

Grades of 79% or below are considered unacceptable in the clinical area. The clinical grading scale is higher than the didactic scale because of the strong emphasis to prepare individuals to become professional and competent advanced-level Respiratory Therapists. Students performing below an 80% in clinical courses will not be allowed to progress in the program.
  1. 95-100%
  2. 87-94%
  3. 80-86%

Graduation Requirements for an AAS Degree in Respiratory Care

To meet graduation requirements, students must:
  • Complete the Comprehensive Self-Assessment Examination (SAE).
  • Fulfill the course requirements of the Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care curriculum.
  • Complete the last 26 semester hours in Respiratory Care at the College.
  • Earn a minimum of 75 hours of credit attaining a C (2.0) cumulative grade point average which includes a C or above in each required respiratory care and general education course in the curriculum.
  • Meet all financial obligations incurred with the College.
  • Be recommended by faculty and conferred for graduation by the College Governing Board.
(No degree will be awarded until all requirements are met)

Professional Code of Conduct

American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)
In the conduct of professional activities the Respiratory Therapist shall be bound by the following ethical and professional principles. Respiratory Therapist shall:
  • Demonstrate behavior that reflects integrity, supports objectivity, and fosters trust in the profession and its professionals. Actively maintain and continually improve their professional competence and represent it accurately.
  • Perform only those procedures or functions in which they are individually competent and which are within their scope of accepted and responsible practice.
  • Respect and protect the legal and personal rights of patients they treat, including the right to informed consent and refusal of treatment.
  • Divulge no confidential information regarding any patient or family unless disclosure is required for responsible performance of duty, or required by law.
  • Provide care without discrimination on any basis, with respect for the rights and dignity of all individuals.
  • Promote disease prevention and wellness.
  • Refuse to participate in illegal or unethical acts, and shall refuse to conceal illegal, unethical or incompetent acts of others.
  • Follow sound scientific procedures and ethical principles in research.
  • Comply with state or federal laws which govern and relate to their practice.
  • Avoid any form of conduct that creates a conflict of interest and shall follow the principles of ethical business behavior.
  • Promote health care delivery through improvement of the access, efficacy, and cost of patient care.
  • Encourage and promote appropriate stewardship of resources.


Fall Semester: 16 weeks
Course #: Description: Semester Hours
  Anatomy & Physiology I2 4 SH
RES110 Respiratory Procedures I 5 SH
RES112 Cardiopulmonary Anatomy & Physiology 3 SH
RES114 Introduction to Respiratory Care 4 SH
Spring Semester: 16 weeks
  Anatomy & Physiology II2 4 SH
RES120 Respiratory Procedures II 4 SH
RES122 Respiratory Pharmacology 2 SH
RES124 Respiratory Disease 2 SH
RES155 Clinical Practice I 4 SH
Summer Semester:
RES220 Intro to Mechanical Ventilation 2 SH
  Microbiology2 4 SH
  Written Communication1,2 3 SH
Fall Semester: 16 weeks
RES 230 Respiratory Procedures III 4 SH
RES 233 Cardiopulmonary Monitoring 3 SH
RES 255 Clinical Practice II 5 SH
  Psychology1,2 3 SH
  Oral Communication1,2 3 SH
Spring Semester
RES 240 Respiratory Procedures IV 4 SH
RES 250 Respiratory Seminar 3 SH
RES 275 Clinical Practice III 6 SH
  Humanities1,2 3 SH

1 Indicates course may be chosen from among approved clusters listed in the academic section of the College Catalog.
2 General education courses are taken at another institution or transferred into the respiratory care major, and may be completed prior to or concurrent with respiratory care courses.

General Education Total 24 SH
Respiratory Care Total 51 SH
AAS Program Total 75 SH