September 11, 2009

UAMS Respiratory Care Program Named among Nation’s Best

 Heather Neal-Rice, an assistant professor in the UAMS respiratory care program, quizzes a student on stethoscope placement for listening to specific sections of the lungs.

Heather Neal-Rice, an assistant professor in the UAMS respiratory care program, quizzes a student on stethoscope placement for listening to specific sections of the lungs.

Sept. 11, 2009 | The respiratory care program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently netted praise from the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care education (CoARC) as one of the top programs in the country.

The group presented its Excellence in Education Award to the program during a July event. UAMS was one of 10 programs that achieved a 90 percent pass rate by its students on the profession’s certification exams. There are more than 400 accredited respiratory care programs in the United States.

“This was a huge honor, placing our program in the upper 2.5 percent of programs in the country,” said Erna Boone, chairman of the Department of Respiratory and Surgical Technologies in the UAMS College of Health Related Professions. “We are proud of our record of excellence in UAMS graduate outcomes that only a few programs have been able to consistently achieve.”

In recent years the program has even seen classes where every graduate passed the credentialing exams.

Boone attributed the program’s success to a combination of skilled faculty and support from the college.

“Our faculty is dedicated to both the science and the practice of respiratory care,” Boone said. “They are passionate about teaching and are always striving for better ways to teach difficult concepts.” These qualities laid the groundwork for this award.

“However, the faculty could not do this job without the support of several other key resources, including strong administrative support, outstanding clinical resources for learning, caring clinical preceptors, an active advisory group and quality medical direction.”

Boone said the respiratory therapists continue to be in high demand.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook that “employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow 19 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than average for all occupations. The increasing demand will come from substantial growth in the middle-aged and elderly population—a development that will heighten the incidence of cardiopulmonary disease.”

According to the 2009 Human Resources study from the AARC, the projected average annual earnings of respiratory therapists working in the U.S. is $62,223. In this study, and depending on the area of the country, therapists just beginning their careers reported average annual earnings ranging from $42,078-$47,297.