Online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion Program Granted Accreditation

"The CoARC accreditation definitely makes our program stand out as compared to those existing that are not accredited."

- Wes Phy, Program Director, MEd, RRT

The University of Southern Indiana's online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy completion program (RRT to BSRT) has been granted provisional accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). This accreditation ensures that students are going to receive a quality education from USI. We sat down with RRT to BSRT Program Director, Mr. Wesley Phy, to learn exactly what the CoARC accreditation means for respiratory therapy students, graduates, and faculty.

Wes began our interview by exclaiming his excitement about the new accreditation. He really believes it sets our program apart from other universities that offer respiratory therapy programs. Wes then proceeded to explain just exactly what the CoARC accreditation is. "CoARC is the accrediting body for all educational programs for respiratory therapy. CoARC accreditation is very important because it sets the guidelines for the standards that have to be met. This ensures that respiratory therapists are meeting AARC (American Association for Respiratory Care) standards of care," Wes explained. 

This accreditation comes with the hope of recruiting and retaining more online RRT to BSRT students. Because CoARC ensures such a quality education for students, Wes believes that prospective students will be drawn to USI's program. Wes continued by saying, "it is mandated by CoARC that we display on our webpages that our program is accredited. This is ensures students or applicants that this is an accredited and quality program. The accreditation is very important to all respiratory therapy programs."

"The CoARC accreditation definitely makes our program stand out as compared to those existing that are not accredited," the program director explained. According to the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care website, USI is the only university in Indiana that offers an accredited degree advancement program.

"CoARC accreditation is critical to document and demonstrate to future students, current students, and patients that our graduates are prepared to enter the workforce and function effectively as a Respiratory Therapist."

- Dr. Ann White, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions

When asked what are the standards that programs must meet to be accredited by CoARC, Wes stated, "Well, CoARC looks at your curriculum. The curriculum standards have to meet the American Association of Respiratory Care guidelines. They have to also meet National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) guidelines. Each set of courses have to meet a certain standard that CoARC has put together. Again, that is a combination of policy that's written from the AARC and the NBRC. The AARC and NBRC guidelines are set through physicians and pulmonologists that specialize in respiratory therapy. But as far as what they're looking at, there's objectives that we have to meet for CoARC standards. Every 10 years, our program has to go through an accreditation where we spend several months writing what we call the 'self-study' to show evidence that each standard has been met. The program and courses have to also align with the university's policies of outcomes and community outcomes. So, there's a large list of standards and outcomes that have to be met before accreditation is granted."

The program director also clarified that CoARC accreditation has a correlation with a higher retention and graduation rate for USI's BSRT program. "Our students always score on the national board exams about 150 percent above the national average, which is really good. There's a lot of programs that can't boast of that, but we can," Wes proudly exclaimed. "This relates to our accreditation because those strict CoARC standards that we have to meet ensures that these students are getting exactly what they need as far as becoming a practitioner in respiratory therapy," he continued. 

The CoARC accreditation also comes with access to the resources from (National Board of Respiratory Care) and the AARC (American Association for Respiratory Care). The NBRC is the credentialing body, and the AARC set policies and assurance of quality in program. Students and graduate of USI's RRT to BSRT program can utilize these associations as resources to help find scholarships, financial assistance, careers, and more. The program director stated, "The AARC offers scholarships throughout the year for four students. The AARC also has two different magazines that come out annually. These magazines list job opportunities in the back. On top of that, all three of these associations' websites list financial assistance and career opportunities nationwide." Students and graduates of the RRT to BSRT program are encouraged to take advantage of these resources.

Wes finished our interview by stating that CoARC is just a good resource for students, graduates, and faculty to have. He looks forward to the bright future that the BSRT program at USI has, and is confident that the program only has room for growth due to the CoARC accreditation. 

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