Chadron State College is partnering with Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health in Omaha on a program that allows students to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from CSC, an Associate’s degree in Respiratory Care from Nebraska Methodist, and be immediately eligible for the national exam to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist.
The program is a little unusual in that students normally earn an Associate’s degree before starting a bachelor’s degree, but in this program students begin at Chadron State and apply to the Nebraska Methodist program their sophomore year.
Respiratory Therapist is one of the most in-demand medical specialties with students often receiving job offers months before receiving their degree. Signing bonuses of up to $15,000 are offered and the demand is expected to grow as the long-term after-effects of COVID-19 become more apparent.
CSC Dean of Business, Math, and Science Dr Wendy Waugh, Nebraska Methodist Program Director Dr Lisa Fuchs, and former CSC Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr Charles Snare worked together for more than a year putting together the new program, approved by the State College Trustees last June.
Waugh says students in the program don’t have to leave the Chadron area if they don’t want to because the Respiratory Care courses can be taken online while Chadron Community, Gordon Memorial, and Box Butte General Hospitals have all signed on as clinical training sites.
Waugh says the students also have the option of blending their clinical training and work through the local rural hospitals, the Methodist Health System, and clinical sites in Omaha – which would likely open up even more job opportunities.
Dr Adam Wells is Co-Medical Director of the Nebraska Methodist Respiratory Care Program and a 2006 graduate of CSC where he was part of RHOP, the Rural Health Opportunities Program.
He calls the new program “an exceptional opportunity for future students” and says he’s excited and honored to be part of it and to “give back to the area, community, and school that helped launch my career.”
Dr. Megan Schuckman of the Chadron Medical Clinic, also an RHOP graduate, says the special skill set of the respiratory therapist is even greater demand than usual right now.
“There is a shortage of respiratory therapists especially in rural areas (and) the pandemic has made it glaringly apparent that they are necessary in rural Nebraska,” she says.
“Respiratory Therapy is an integral arm of our health care team that often gets overlooked. They’ve always been important and never more so than now.”
Dr Schuckman says some COVID-19 survivors lose partial lung function, with respiratory therapists are the ideal professionals to help these patients.