The Lincoln Land Community College Respiratory Care Program was recently recognized for meeting and exceeding the thresholds of success established by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). The organization reviewed LLCC’s program to determine ongoing compliance with accreditation standards. “This is an accomplishment of which you, your staff and institution should be proud,” said Shelley Christensen, director of accreditation services for CoARC.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, respiratory therapists are in great demand, according to Lori Badgley, LLCC adjunct faculty. “We have had a shortage of respiratory therapists in this area for a while, and we need them more than ever during this pandemic. We have respiratory therapists who will be retiring soon, and this will only add to the shortage.”
She explained the role of the respiratory therapist in treating patients with COVID-19.
“One of the major symptoms of COVID-19 is respiratory distress. People feel like they cannot breathe, and generally their body is not oxygenating well. When the oxygen in your body drops, you breathe faster, try to compensate and feel ‘heaviness’ in your chest. This is where a respiratory therapist comes in to improve breathing and oxygenation.
“Unfortunately, this virus has required many people to be placed on a mechanical ventilator because the patient could not breathe on their own any longer or could not get oxygen into their bloodstream. As respiratory therapists, we work side-by-side with nurses and physicians to provide the best care for our patients and reach successful outcomes.”
LLCC’s Respiratory Care Program is located at HSHS St. John’s Hospital, providing students with access to direct patient contact, hospital equipment and facilities. Director Jan Szoke says the program takes less than two years to complete, has 100% job placement, and many graduates receive multiple job offers with sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000. The average starting salary for a respiratory therapist in the Springfield area is approximately $43,000.
“Our graduates are hired to work in respiratory care departments in hospitals, physician offices and sleep labs. One of our graduates just started working as a traveling respiratory therapist and loves it. Most of our graduates stay to live and work in the area.”
An information session for interested students is scheduled Nov. 18, 4 p.m.at HSHS St. John’s Hospital, inside the HSHS Neuroscience Center. No pre-registration is required. Those unable to attend in person may view an online information session at https://forms.llcc.edu/respiratory-care. More information is also available at www.llcc.edu/respiratory-care.