Rock Valley College

Respiratory Care Degree

Degree conferred: Associate in Applied Science - 71 credits
Program contact: Program Chair (815) 921-3220

Program overview

Respiratory Care is an allied health profession that focuses on the care of patients with cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) problems. The graduates of the Rock Valley College program are prepared to work locally and nationally. As highly skilled and knowledgeable Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT), they are vital parts of the health care team. RRT’s actively work to deliver direct patient care with physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals. This includes patient assessment to help guide the treatment, care, education, and rehabilitation of the patient. RRT’s also provide therapeutic treatment and diagnostic (test) measurement of the cardio-pulmonary system. RRT’s are trained to blend human relations skills with technical and scientific knowledge in order to give the best direct patient care possible. Skills are mastered through classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences.

Work and employment

Graduates of the program generally work in hospitals, assuming staff respiratory therapist positions or specializing in critical care or diagnostic areas. Other opportunities exist in the home care settings or through advancement into management or educational positions and rehab. A video titled “Life and Breath” can be viewed at

Professional Credential & Program Accreditation

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the credential of Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

  • This national exam is administered through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC –
  • The program has continuing accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care (Co-ARC –
  • The professional organization for Respiratory Therapists is the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC –
  • The program belongs to a chapter of The Lambda Beta Society, a National Honor Society for the Profession of Respiratory Care.

Admission Policies

To be considered for admission the applicant must:

  1. Meet all college admission requirements.
  2. Be a high school graduate or have completed the GED.
  3. BIO 185 – Anatomy and Physiology with minimum grade of “C." BIO 185 requires BIO 100 or BIO 103 and CHM 110 or higher, with minimum grades of “C" and must be taken within the last five years. (Other colleges’ Biology course prerequisites may be different than RVC's.)

    Note: BIO 281 – Human Anatomy and Physiology I and BIO 282 -Human Anatomy and Physiology II may be substituted for BIO 185. Both BIO 281 and BIO 282 must be completed.

  4. BIO 274 – Microbiology with minimum grade of “C."
  5. ENG 101 – Composition I with a minimum grade of “C."
  6. HLT 110 – Medical Terminology with a minimum grade of “C."
  7. Math requirement: Minimum Math requirement for the Respiratory Care program is MTH 092 - Beginning Algebra, at the college level. To meet biology and chemistry prerequisites at RVC, MTH 094 or a higher level math with a minimum grade of “C” is required. (Other colleges’ Math course prerequisites may be different than RVC's.)

  8. Grade Point Average: A minimum GPA of 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) is required of all college course work completed for college credit.

Admission Procedure

Admission is selective and competitive. All required documents must be submitted to the Respiratory Care Program office on or before January 20th to be  reviewed for admission for the fall term. The Respiratory Care Program holds information sessions that cover prerequisites and other important admission information. Attendance of a session is required to receive an application packet for the program. For details on scheduling to attend an information session, call the Respiratory Care Program office at (815) 921-3200.

Criminal Background Check & Drug Testing

Students will undergo a criminal background check and drug testing upon admission to the program. It is possible that a student’s criminal background and/or a positive drug test will prevent participation in hospital clinical practice and program completion.

Standard for Progression in the Program

Students are required to earn at least a minimum grade of “C” in each course in the Respiratory Care program of study. Failure to do so will prevent a student from taking later courses in the program and from graduating.


Respiratory Care Course Requirements (51 credits)

Number Title Credits
  RSP-111 Introduction to Respiratory Care (3)
  RSP-112 Patient Assessment (3)
  RSP-113 Cardiopulmonary Anatomy & Physiology (3)
  RSP-114 Clinical Medicine (3)
  RSP-121 Respiratory Care Pract Procedures I (5)
  RSP-122 Resp Care Practices & Procedures II (5)
  RSP-123 Respiratory Pharmacology (3)
  RSP-131 Clinical Practice I (2)
  RSP-132 Clinical Practice II (3)
  RSP-221 Resp Care Practices & Procedures III (3)
  RSP-222 Cardiopulmonary Testing & Rehab (3)
  RSP-223 Resp Care Practices & Procedures IV (4)
  RSP-224 Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care (2)
  RSP-225 Respiratory Care Seminar (3)
  RSP-231 Clinical Practice III (3)
  RSP-232 Clinical Practice IV (3)

General Education Course Requirements: (20 credits)

Number Title Credits
  HLT-110 Medical Terminology (2)
  ENG-101 Composition I (3)
  BIO-185 Foundations Anatomy & Physiology (5)
  BIO-274 Microbiology (4)
Select one for the Speech requirement: 
Number Title Credits
  SPH-201 Interpersonal Communication, or
  SPH-131 Fundamentals of Communication (3)
Select one course below for the elective requirement:Select one course below for the elective requirement: 
Number Title Credits
  FWS-237 Nutrition for Optimum Living (3)
  PHL-153 Medical Ethics (3)
  BIO-171 Biology of Human Disease (3)
  MGT-270 Principles of Management (3)
  PSY-170 General Psychology (3)
  PHL-256 Contemporary Moral Issues (3)