Jun 16, 2024  
2021 - 2022 Catalog 
2021 - 2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Respiratory Therapy

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Faculty: Arndt, Schneider, Small, Sperle (Chair)

The Profession

Respiratory therapists are essential members of the modern health care team and work in collaboration with physicians and other health professionals in adult and newborn intensive care units, hospital emergency rooms, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, sleep-related breathing disorders clinics, and in the home. Program graduates are prepared to assess patients, develop a plan of care, implement therapy, evaluate its effectiveness and modify treatment as appropriate. Patients include critically or chronically ill individuals suffering from a variety of respiratory and cardiac problems. In addition to treatment, therapists perform various complex diagnostic and monitoring procedures to assist the physician in devising an appropriate care strategy. In the home, outpatient and community settings, respiratory therapists provide education to patients and families in the day-to-day self-management of chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); tobacco cessation is an important aspect of these educational efforts.

Respiratory Therapy Program

The professional phase of the program is located at CHI/St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck (faculty offices, laboratory, classroom and clinical facilities), and is co-sponsored by the University of Mary and CHI/St. Alexius Medical Center. The curriculum consists of classroom, laboratory and clinical practicum courses, including over 1000 hours of supervised experience in direct patient interaction.

The program benefits from small classroom size and direct interaction with professors who are published authors of textbooks and scientific papers. Faculty student ratio is 1:4 in the classroom and laboratory and 1:1 in the clinical patient care setting. The program has received national recognition for excellence in graduate credentialing success, placing it in the top 10% of programs in the country in this category. Graduates consistently score well above the national mean in credentialing exams, and typically have employment commitments before graduation; the program has enjoyed a 100% graduate employment rate for many years. The program has a national reputation for the quality of its graduates. Program credentialing success and job placement can be compared with all other programs in the country at the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care Outcomes page.

Accreditation Status

The Respiratory Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), 264 Prescision Blvd, Telford, TN 37690; www.coarc.com.


To prepare students at the baccalaureate and graduate level to become competent registered respiratory therapists who think critically, engage in evidence-based practice, function as expert resources to physicians and other health care professionals, assume leadership roles, and interact respectfully and compassionately with others regardless of cultural background, values, and lifestyles.


To be recognized as a premier respiratory therapy educational program in the United States, known for the quality and professional competence of its graduates.

Educational Philosophy

In addition to professional preparation, respiratory therapy education should focus on the broad education and development of the whole person. A university education gives students the foundation to function effectively as informed, participating members of society. The respiratory therapy faculty believe that a broad liberal arts base is needed to support professional competence, and that graduates must be prepared not only to function with technical proficiency, but also to contribute to the welfare of society as participating citizens. It is important that health care professionals develop competencies in communication, effective thinking, values development, cross-cultural appreciation, stewardship of the physical environment, and life-long learning.

Critical Thinking

Faculty encourage students to engage in effective clinical reasoning and critical analysis of information and actions to improve patient care and advance the scholarship of the respiratory therapy profession. We believe students who engage in critical thinking use concepts, ideas, and theories to interpret multiple sources of data and experiences to answer questions, solve problems, prioritize, and resolve issues. Students develop intellectual curiosity, rational thought processes, self-awareness, open-mindedness to diversity, and reflective decision making.


We believe diversity among faculty, students, and members of society enrich the educational experience; the curriculum is designed to meet diverse learning needs. Cultural competence is grounded in an appreciation of the profound influence of culture in people’s lives, and the commitment to encourage positive responses of health care providers to these differences. Graduating respiratory therapy professionals are prepared to respond with sensitivity to multicultural/ethical populations’ varying health care needs in relation to human values including life, justice, personal freedom, health, and well-being.

Rule of St. Benedict

 St. Benedict mandated, “Care of the sick must rank above and before all else”. (RB 35:1). The Rule of St. Benedict encompasses values foundational to the development of ethical decision making and integrity essential to the respiratory therapy profession. These values permeate the respiratory therapy curriculum at CHI St. Alexius Health and the University of Mary with emphasis on the Benedictine values: hospitality, respect for person, prayer, service, moderation, and community. These values guide students to integrate spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual characteristics into their personal and professional lives.


The goals of the undergraduate and graduate major in Respiratory Therapy are:

  1. To prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs) and as professional members of the health care team as defined by the “Essential Functions and Professional Expectations”:
    • Demonstrate knowledge of the physiological bases for all therapeutic interventions and diagnostic procedures in all areas of respiratory therapy practice
    • Demonstrate proficiency in implementing all respiratory therapy treatment and diagnostic procedures
    • Demonstrate proficiency in interpreting physical exam findings, cardiopulmonary monitoring data, laboratory data, and diagnostic imaging information
    • Demonstrate problem solving and critical thinking skills as consultants to physicians and other health care personnel in developing cardiopulmonary care strategies
    • Demonstrate proficiency in establishing an evidence base for best practice through research and the critique and interpretation of the professional scientific literature
    • Demonstrate knowledge of the ethical obligations and responsibilities of health care professionals and institutions
    • Demonstrate knowledge of the legal, social and economic environments in which the health care institutions function
    • Demonstrate effective cross-cultural and interdisciplinary human interaction skills in the  health care setting and the broader community
    • Demonstrate knowledge of current issues and trends in health care, including public policy, access and reimbursement issues
    • Demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication
    • Educate patients and the general public in matters of cardiopulmonary health and chronic disease management
    • Demonstrate leadership abilities in health care through the development of honest, competent and forward-looking practice techniques.
  2. To prepare leaders for the field of respiratory care by including curricular content that includes objectives related to acquisition of skills in the areas of management, education, research, and advanced clinical practice such as:

    • Becoming a valued member of the health care team by sharing expertise in the field of respiratory therapy through the use of and promotion of evidence-based practices, research, and the utilization of clinical practice guidelines. 

    • Exploring areas of advanced clinical practice by creating and completing a specialty rotation tailored to individual student interests in areas of advanced practice to prepare for future leadership opportunities in research, management and education within the respiratory therapy profession.

Curriculum Pathways

Required respiratory therapy courses may be completed following the traditional, completion, or graduate pathway. Program outcomes and objectives are the similar in all pathways, but the course content is organized differently to facilitate learning for different types of students. The traditional pathway is designed for those who enter the Division of Respiratory Therapy without formal respiratory therapy knowledge or skill. The completion pathway is designed for persons who have formal respiratory therapy knowledge and skills and are licensed as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). The Master of Science in Respiratory Therapy (MSRT) pathway offers individuals with baccalaureate degrees in disciplines other than respiratory therapy the opportunity to complete the professional component of the respiratory therapy program for graduate credit and enter practice with advanced preparation.


    Undergraduate MajorGraduate Major

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