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Respiratory Courses and Classes Overview

Respiratory courses are typically found at the associate degree level in 2-year, community colleges. Students who take respiratory classes may be working toward degrees in respiratory care. Health care professionals in the area of respiratory care work with patients to diagnose and treat lung and heart problems. Respiratory courses focus on both emergency care and long-term care or life support.

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Introduction to Respiratory Care and Procedures Course

In this introductory course, topics will cover the broad role of respiratory care professionals. A general introduction to the health care system will be provided along with specific information regarding lung and heart disease. Students will learn basic skills for assessing patient condition, checking vital signs, administering oxygen and charting patient progress.

Anatomy and Physiology Course

Specific topics in an anatomy and physiology course for respiratory care may vary depending on the program. Some schools may focus just on cardiopulmonary anatomy (functions and locations of heart and lungs). Other schools may give broad information on all human body systems. No matter the format, students will learn body system locations, placement, function and names. Students will also learn the affects of disease on particular organs or body systems and how respiratory care can help treat such illnesses.

Emergency and Critical Care Course

This course is typically taken further into a respiratory care program and may be taught at an advanced level. Emergency and critical care focuses on patients who are in intensive care or have experienced urgent health crises. Students study topics in sepsis (infection), cardiovascular trauma and breathing failure. A lot of time is spent covering the role of respiratory care professionals in intensive care situations. Skills that are developed include pharmacology, catheter, ventilator, cardiopulmonary life support and patient assessment.

Ventilation Course

Ventilation, the aiding of the natural breathing process, is a necessary skill for respiratory care professionals to have. A ventilation course covers ways to manage artificial airways in a patient. Students study the different techniques of noninvasive and invasive ventilation. Ventilation tools and equipment, such as face masks and intubation machines, are used during the hands-on training portion of the course. Students learn when and how to wean a patient off of ventilation.

Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology Course

This course is usually taken in different levels throughout a respiratory care program. Students start at an introductory level to learn the basic function of the human heart and lungs and move into more advanced levels of coursework to develop skills in specific cardiopulmonary disease and treatment. Topics in abnormal heart and lung processes, cardiopulmonary disease diagnosis and respiratory therapy effects are covered in this course. Students learn how to develop respiratory treatment plans for cardiopulmonary disease.

Clinical Course

At various points in a respiratory care program, students will need to complete clinical courses. Clinical coursework allows students to develop hands-on skills in real-life health care settings. During respiratory clinical courses, students may also choose to specialize in certain areas of respiratory care. Such areas of specialization may include pediatric care, adult trauma, general respiratory care, home care, neonatal care or respiratory rehabilitation. Clinical courses are typically supervised by licensed health care professionals in settings such as clinics or hospitals.

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