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Program Information

A.S. Degree Program
State License/National Exam Registry Eligible
State license required for employment.

Approx. Cost

Approx. Length
4 semesters
1 summer
1 intersession

Gen. Ed.
prior to entry recommended
required for completion

Math & English for A.S. Degree
Al H A010, Al H A111 Biol A221, Chem 110


Catalog description of program
Respiratory Care is an Allied Health specialty involving the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with acute and chronic diseases affecting the pulmonary system.  Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists work within all areas of the hospital, especially the critical care units with patients who are in a life-threatening phase of their illness.  Additionally, some Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists work with home care agencies to treat patients in their homes.  Duties include analysis of pulmonary function and arterial blood gases, life support ventilation, CPR, assessment of pulmonary status, airway care, plus other related duties.  Specialties in Respiratory Care include adult critical care, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, pulmonary function testing, home care and rehabilitation, management, and education.
The Respiratory Care Program at Orange Coast College is a two-year Associate of Science Degree program beginning in the fall semester of each year.  The student must complete General Education requirements and program prerequisites prior to entering the program.    Courses within the program include lectures, skill application of procedures and techniques in a laboratory setting on campus, and approximately 1000 hours of clinical practice within area hospitals performing the latest procedures in medicine.  There is also a physician lecture series during the course of the program allowing students to discuss pulmonary and other diseases with physicians. This coursework leads to an Associate of Science Degree in Respiratory Care.




The Respiratory Care Program at Orange Coast College is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).  Program graduates are eligible for California licensure (RCP), national Certification (CRT), and national Registry (RRT) by the National Board for Respiratory Care.  The employment outlook for Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists is excellent locally and throughout the United States.
Description of job for which program prepares students
Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists administer medications and therapy to patients with pulmonary and other acute and chronic diseases and injuries.     Respiratory Care Practitioners manage and maintain patients on life support ventilator systems including adults, pediatrics, infants, and premature newborns.  Additionally, Respiratory Care Practitioners administer life support in areas including emergency, trauma, post-op care units, perform diagnostic tests, and assist chronic patients with rehabilitation and home care.
Required program prerequisites
q  Allied Health A010: Health Occupations
q  Allied Health A111: Medical Terminology
q  Biology A221: Human Anatomy & Physiology
q  Chemistry a110: Introductory Chemistry
q  Math and English for the Associate of Science Degree

 Associate of Science Degree and Program Graduation

All students must meet OCC Associate of Science Degree requirements even though they may have degrees from other institutions.  Students should have official transcripts evaluated and should contact the OCC Counseling office to meet with a counselor to assure all requirements have been met or transfer. 
The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) testing admission requirements states “having a minimum of an Associate Degree from a respiratory therapy educational program supported by the Committee on Accreditation of Respiratory Care” (CoARC)”.
The program requires that students must successfully pass both the NBRC Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) Entry Level Self-Assessment Examination and the NBRC Written Registry (WRRT) Advanced Level Self-Assessment Examination for graduation from the program.
Upon successful program completion, the graduate is eligible for State Licensure (RCP) and national certification CRT and RRT examinations.
Does this program transfer?
Yes, Loma Linda University
Procedure for program admittance
All students must complete the course Allied Health A010 – Health Occupations in order to apply to the program.  Students are selected and admitted to the program on a first come, first serve basis following completion of Allied Health A010. Students must be admitted to the program in order to enroll in any RC class.
Program start
The Respiratory Care Program starts in the fall semester of each year. 
Employment possibilities upon program completion
Hospitals, clinics, home care, out-patient facilities, management, research,   sales, education.


Entry salary survey for Spring 2010 locally indicated beginning salary at $22 to $28 per hour.  Most graduates started around $23-32/hour. This salary scale does not include shift differential ranging from $1.75 to $4.00 per hour additional.  
Therapists typically work three 12-hour shifts per week.  Approximate starting salary $47,700 to 58,000.
Courses within the program which students can take while seeking admission to the program (subject to catalog restrictions)
q  Allied Health A120: Human Diseases
q  Allied Health A130: Applied Pharmacology
q  GE for AS degree
q  Biology A114: Basic Microbiology
Length of program
Two years; includes four semesters, one intersession and one summer for the full time program.
Spaces available
Each year, 28 full-time spaces available
Background checks
All students will be required to submit an application for pre-clinical background/drug screen check. The background check will include County Criminal Records (past 7 years), Residency History Search, Social Security Alert, Nationwide Healthcare Fraud & Abuse Registry (OIG/GSA), and Nationwide Sexual Offender Registry. The drug screening will include THC, cocaine, opiates, PCP, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methaqualone, propoxyphene and methadone. If requested by the clinical site, the results of the background/drug checks must be provided to them by the student.
Clinical requirements
The program requires that students participate in scheduled course clinical rotations concurrent with classroom courses. Clinical assignments provide students with hands-on opportunities to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom and laboratory at OCC contracted hospitals, medical centers, and/or outpatient facilities.  It is the responsibility of each student to provide his or her own transportation to assigned clinical sites.
Prior to entry into clinical, students are required to complete/obtain:
q  A physical examination
q  Criminal background/drug screen check clearance
q  CPR, HIPAA training, Blood borne pathogen training provided through Al H A115
q  Student liability insurance
Students must adhere to appropriate mandated dress code which may include a laboratory coat, nametag, and other program specific requirements. Students must also adhere to dress code policies by the contracted clinical facility.
Clinical sites may require drug testing or other blood work.  There may be exposure to hazardous materials and infectious pathogens in the clinical setting.  Students will adhere to all safety and standard precautionary measures.  The student receives no financial compensation for clinical experience, but does receive course units as a required class in the program.
The program requires that students participate in clinical rotations concurrent with lecture and laboratory classes.  Clinical assignments are arranged by the Director of Clinical Education for the program.  Clinical requirements include: First year:  Spring semester, 8 hours per week for 16 weeks; Summer session, 24 hours per week for four weeks.  Second year: Fall semester, 24 hours per week for 14 weeks; Spring semester, 24 hours per week for the initial 12 weeks, and 36 hours per week for the final 4 weeks Internship. Clinical rotations may include nights or weekends.

 (Students participate in standard 12 hour shifts, except for first year spring semester)

Employment Prospects
Employment opportunities are excellent both locally, nationally and internationally.
Accreditation of Program
The program is fully accredited through CoARC (Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care) 1248 Harwood Rd., Bedford, TX 76021. 800-874-5615).
Graduates are eligible to take the NBRC CRT (Certified Respiratory Therapist), the RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist), the CPFT (Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist), and NPS (Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist) examinations through the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Graduates are eligible for and must obtain licensure through the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) for the State of California in order to obtain employment in California (  All graduates must take and pass an online course in Respiratory Care State Law and Ethics prior to attaining state licensure.
Program Goal
To educate and provide training to students to become competent Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists, qualified for employment in the field of respiratory therapy.
Program Student Learning Outcome
The outcome of the program is to prepare students as competent Respiratory Care Practitioners, ready for employment in the field as professionals providing cognitive, psychomotor and affective qualities to meet community needs.
Program costs
The program costs are approximately $4,600.00 for California residents over the length of the program. 
Respiratory Care Board
Graduates are licensed through the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) of the State of California.  The board may deny a license as regulated by state law under the following situations:
1. Been convicted of a crime. A plea or verdict of guilty.

2. Done any act involving dishonesty, fraud or deceit. 


 If you have been convicted of any offense other than a minor traffic violation, you are required to state this on your state board examination.  Fingerprinting is part of the application for licensure with subsequent background check.  This may affect your eligibility to take the exam or obtain licensure. 

      (See for further information)

Post graduate requirements
To obtain employment in the State of California, the following is required:

a.    Successfully pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination given by the    National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

b.    Successfully complete and pass the Respiratory Care State Law and Ethics course offered through the California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) and the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).

c. Apply and meet requirements for the Respiratory Care Board for the State of California for licensure.

     d. Complete the post graduate Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) survey.
Most graduates become registered respiratory therapists (RRT). To become a RRT the following is required:
a.    Successfully pass the Written Registry (WRRT) given through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).
b.    Successfully pass the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE) given by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).
Graduates are eligible for cross-training into Polysomnography (Sleep Disorders).  See PSG program information.

 Contact information  

​Caryn Plum, Allied Health Advisor
Office: CS&D, Room 101-C
Phone: 714-432-5945  
Alison Riggio, Clinical Coordinator 
Office: Allied Health Bldg., 107-C
Phone: 714-432-5502
                                        Web site to make counseling appts:           


Allied Health Program Assistant
Jane McLaughlin