In an online program, students earn a BS in respiratory therapy
University of Cincinnati offers an online program in respiratory therapy to help students increase their employability
University of Cincinnati, College of Allied Health Sciences, Cincinnati, Ohio
In order to advance the profession, the respiratory therapy industry has been encouraging students to earn a bachelor’s degree, instead of an associate’s degree, in respiratory therapy. To fill the market niche for BS completion programs, the College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Cincinnati decided to create an online bachelor of science in respiratory therapy program.
“It was the right time,” Shane Keene, the associate dean of the college, explained. “The profession was transitioning. There was a need that current offerings couldn’t meet.”
The college chose to partner with Pearson Embanet, which provides online program management services, to launch and support the online bachelor of science in respiratory therapy program. Pearson provides marketing, recruitment, and retention services. The first students enrolled in the program in the spring of 2013.
The online program is aimed at midlevel professional respiratory therapists who want to enhance their employability by earning a BS, as well as recent graduates of associate’s degree programs who want to continue their education. To secure a steady stream of students, Pearson helped the college develop articulation agreements with thirty-two community colleges nationwide that offer an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy.
To address student concerns about degree completion times and cost, the college and Pearson developed an accelerated curriculum, which requires students to complete fifty, instead of sixty, credits. That way, students can complete the online program in five semesters (twenty months), instead of in two to four years.
The college’s goal is to prepare students to become managers, educators, or researchers or to enter graduate school. So in developing the accelerated curriculum, the college made sure its courses aligned with learning outcomes that would help students progress along their career paths.
“We’re doing everything that we can to encourage students’ professional growth while they’re in the program, in addition to getting their degree,” Keene noted. Because students must become credentialed as registered respiratory therapists to enter the capstone phase of the program and graduate, the college and Pearson offer support to help students through the credentialing process. They provide students with a home study guide to prepare for the exam, and they pay for the two-part exam as well.
“We’re the only respiratory program out there that does that, so it’s kind of an innovative way that we’re attracting students because we’ve invested in their education as well,” remarked Keene.
In the course of three years, from the spring of 2013 to the fall of 2015, the number of students in the online bachelor of science program has steadily risen from three to 144. Keene thinks enrollment in the online program will ultimately grow to three hundred students.
He credits Pearson’s Online Program Management solution not only with helping the college increase enrollment, but also with helping it retain students. The support Pearson provides, Keene said, “allows us to be proactive before a student becomes just a casualty and drops out. We don’t have the resources or time or staffing to provide that level of service on our own.”
Pearson’s retention efforts speak volumes for the quality of the services because not only are they getting students, they’re helping us keep them.
Shane Keene, Associate Dean, College of Allied Health Sciences
Graduates have expressed satisfaction with the online program, writing letters to thank program staff and to share stories about how the program enhanced their employability. “Students are taking the degree and making it work for them,” Keene concluded.
Completing my undergraduate education with Cincinnati was the best decision I ever made.
Brittany Jernigan, Graduate, Online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Program
To learn more about the University of Cincinnati’s online bachelor of science in respiratory therapy program, read the full success story.
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