PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College (BCC) is now accepting applications for the fall semester for its Respiratory Care program.
The program is part of a workforce development pipeline at Berkshire Health Systems (BHS), otherwise known as the "talent pipeline," which is designed to create a direct career path from education and training to full-time employment at BHS.
The largest employer in the Berkshires, BHS covers the cost of all training in its pipeline programs and also offers trainees full-time pay with benefits while they are completing their training.
"In as little as two years, students can earn an associate degree in respiratory therapy at BCC, then complete their training at BHS, where respiratory therapists are in demand," said Lori Moon, BCC Dean of Nursing. "It's a fantastic partnership that benefits both BCC students and the growing healthcare workforce in the Berkshires."
Respiratory care practitioners help treat patients with a wide range of cardiopulmonary illnesses, including asthma or heart failure. Respiratory care includes diagnostic testing and administering oxygen, various other gases and aerosol drugs.
BCC's two-year Respiratory Care program, a sequence of lecture, laboratory and clinical courses, prepares students to become Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRTs) and Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs). The program combines coursework and hands-on training, emphasizing the rigorous technical and academic competencies required of a respiratory therapist. Students who complete the program are eligible to take the National Board for Respiratory Care examination.
Graduates of the program are employed in diverse areas of healthcare, holding positions such as neonatal/pediatric specialists, adult critical care specialists, pulmonary rehabilitation specialists, critical care transport therapists, home-care therapists, clinical educators and many more. The projected average salary of respiratory therapists working in the United States is more than $73,000 per year. In Massachusetts, respiratory therapists earn a median wage of $73,000 to $87,000.