Cardinal Stritch University recently celebrated an important milestone in its 80-year history. Seventeen men and women comprised the first graduating class in the Respiratory Therapy bachelor’s degree program.
The program, which launched in 2014, offers a “continuation opportunity” for respiratory therapists to enroll at Stritch and complete the credits necessary for a bachelor’s degree. Instruction is offered entirely online and has served students throughout the state and Midwest.
The American Association for Respiratory Care recommends a bachelor’s degree for practicing therapists as the profession evolves into “one encompassing the higher order thinking skills needed to manage chronic respiratory disease patients across the continuum of care.”
“Graduates of our program are ready to take the next step in their career,” said Dr. Kelly Dries, dean of the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “In addition to advanced techniques, we focus on management, leadership, economics, and research, all of
which provide a broad perspective and prepare our students to contribute to the healthcare industry.”
Stritch offers the only bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy in Wisconsin. The college developed an articulation agreement with the Wisconsin Technical College System, streamlining the path for associate's degree graduates to continue their education.
“The bachelor’s degree opens doors for students and provides room for advancement in the industry,” said Mr. Dwayne Schlund, program chair. “Some states require a bachelor’s degree to be registered, so Stritch graduates have greater opportunity. Our students are drawn from professionals at all stages of their careers.” This diversity within the student population has multiple advantages, according to Mr. Schlund.
“Our students who have been in the workplace share thousands of clinical examples and situations with the newer students. The newer students, in turn, are familiar with advanced technology and bring fresh sets of eyes to scenarios.”