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Modesto Junior College

MJC to offer four-year degree in respiratory care

Modesto Junior College has been selected by the Board of Governors and Chancellor’s Office of California Community Colleges to offer a four-year degree in Respiratory Care beginning in spring of 2017.

“I am thrilled that Modesto Junior College has been selected as one of fifteen California Community Colleges to offer a pilot baccalaureate degree program," said MJC President Jill Stearns. "The MJC pilot program is a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care.  This advanced level of care training for respiratory care professionals will address the unique needs of the Central Valley for practitioners skilled in treating the incidence of asthma and related respiratory disease. MJC is honored to be among the colleges selected for the pilot and we look forward to serving our community with this new degree.”

MJC’s program calls for submitting curriculum to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in November 2015; recruiting clinical instructors from January to March, 2016; admitting the first cohort of students to the program in January, 2017 and starting a new cohort every January after that through 2021. MJC’s first class would graduate in December, 2018.  The pilot baccalaureate program would end on June 30, 2023. 

MJC’s baccalaureate program will be comprised of two segments. The first section is MJC’s current 72.5 unit Associate of Science Degree in respiratory care, which prepares graduates for the Registered Respiratory Therapy exam and subsequent licensure by the Respiratory Care Board of California. In the current program, a cohort of 24 students begins each January and graduates two years later in December. The ability of these students to work in their career field while pursuing their baccalaureate degree will bring increased relevance to their studies.

Students will need to start phase one of the Bachelor’s degree program by beginning the AS degree program in Respiratory Care currently offered at MJC, unless they have already completed an AS degree in this field. 

The second section will include curriculum in research, education, management, and supervision.  It will also include additional education in higher levels of clinical practice such as adult critical care, pediatric critical care, neonatal critical care, pulmonary function technology, cardiopulmonary diagnostics, polysomnography, and other key clinical areas, as needed in the community.

The new Allied Health building, Glacier Hall, which opened in spring of 2013 on West Campus, provides MJC with state-of-the-art facilities in which to offer the four-year degree pilot program in respiratory care.

“Glacier Hall offers up-to-date classroom and laboratory environments that would provide excellent facilities for an expanded respiratory care program,” said Stearns.  “The building offers an experiential learning environment and teaching facility, with a Human Patient Simulation Laboratory that is one of the finest, state-of-the-art patient care simulation labs in the state. This center allows students to learn important skills through the use of simulation mannequins and then review their own efforts via an advanced audio visual system.”

Currently MJC and Fresno City College are the only two community colleges in the Central Valley with state-approved respiratory care programs. Collectively, these two institutions average 35 annual completions for 42 job openings, resulting in an unmet need in the workforce for respiratory care practitioners. There are no educational institutions in the region with bachelor’s degree programs in this field.

The changing healthcare environment has placed emphasis upon prevention and management outside the hospital which increases the need for more respiratory care practitioners qualified to serve as patient educators.

“Modesto Junior College’s baccalaureate in Respiratory Care program will also prepare leaders, who are able to plan, develop, and deliver high quality, cost effective health care services,” said Stearns.  “Increasing higher education opportunities in the greater Modesto area is a strategic need for attracting business and industry to the county and improving job opportunities and quality of life in our community.”

Jobs in respiratory care are expected to increase over the next decade, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 28% increase in practitioners in the next six years. There is also a high vacancy rate for respiratory care practitioners in California because few State accredited education programs in this field exist. Additionally, the existing respiratory care workforce in California has a large percentage of workers nearing retirement age. In 2013, 47% of respiratory care practitioners were in the 45-64 age group, indicating a substantial number of replacement jobs for this occupation in the next five years.

“The opportunity to provide a baccalaureate degree program in Respiratory Care is an incredible fit given the air quality issues that have become a trademark of the Central Valley,” said President of MJC Jill Stearns.  “Further, the incidence of asthma and related respiratory disease associated with poor air quality heightens the need for an advanced level of care that can be provided by practitioners who hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Respiratory Care within the region served by Modesto Junior College.”

Students completing MJC’s four-year degree program in respiratory care will be able to work in a wide variety of facilities, including acute care hospitals, durable medical equipment companies, sub-acute facilities, home care agencies, physician’s offices, managed care organizations, sleep labs, and pulmonary function labs.

The first Associate’s degree coursework (first two years) will continue to cost $46 per unit, (unless changed by the State government).  The  baccalaureate coursework in the last two years of the program is expected to cost $84 per unit. The State has estimated a cost of approximately $10,000 for completing one of the new Bachelor’s degrees, which is much less than a baccalaureate degree from an average four-year school.

Click here to learn more about MJC's current Associate's degree in respiratory care and to view answers to frequently asked questions about the new four-year degree program.  A web page is being designed and will be available soon for those interested in signing up to receive additional information as it becomes available over the next 18 months.