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Respiratory care program application deadline is May 15 (2-15-00)

"Graduates from the Health Science Center program are recruited by centers throughout the state, especially since our graduates have done so well at the various hospitals," Fitzpatrick said. She found that recruiters were more than ready to discuss employment opportunities when she was about to graduate.

Individuals interested in a career as an advanced-level respiratory therapist have until May 15 to apply for the Bachelor of Science degree program starting in the fall semester at the Health Science Center.

The respiratory therapist is the health professional who cares for patients with heart and lung problems, and provides oxygen therapy, pulmonary medications, chest physiotherapy, diagnostic testing, life support and mechanical ventilation. Respiratory therapists care for a variety of patients, including newborn infants in respiratory distress, children with asthma or pneumonia, adult victims of trauma, and older patients with emphysema or cardiac failure.

The respiratory therapist is a cardiopulmonary specialist and, as such, is in great demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a need for 42.6 percent more respiratory therapists through 2008, and salaries are competitive with other health professions.

The respiratory care program at the Health Science Center recently was recognized as one of the best in the country. Graduates have consistently achieved a 100 percent pass rate on licensure exams needed for practice and the program has a 100 percent job placement rate. Applicants for the B.S. degree program should already have completed two years of college.

"Respiratory care is a dynamic and exciting health profession with a large number of opportunities for the new graduate," said David Shelledy, Ph.D., chairman of respiratory care at the Health Science Center.

For more information, call (210) 567-8850 or e-mail Dr. Shelledy at <shelledy@uthscsa.edu>.

Fitzpatrick is glad she entered this fast-growing profession. "A respiratory therapist who passes the national board exam can practice anywhere in the country with appropriate state licensure," she said.

Fitzpatrick’s interest in children is drawing her into the pediatric side of respiratory care. "In most cases, a child is just finding out something is wrong with his lung or heart function. We educate the child and his family or caretakers on the condition and what can be done."

Contact: Will Sansom