Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Respiratory Therapist Program

Q. What is a Respiratory Therapist?

Students working in the Respiratory Therapy Lab.A Respiratory Therapist, also known in California as a Respiratory Care Practitioner or RCP, is a specialist in the field of cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) care. Respiratory Therapists perform procedures that help to diagnose and treat persons with breathing disorders.

There are more than 125,000 of these specialists currently in the United States. Although most RCPs work in the intensive care units and emergency rooms of hospitals, others practice in alternate care settings such as medical equipment supply companies, home health agencies, physician's offices, extended care facilities and in patients' homes.

Some of the activities that are part of RTs work everyday include performing tests that measure lung function, obtaining arterial blood samples to determine levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide and interpretation of the results, conducting cardiopulmonary stress and exercise tests, and studying disorders of people with disruptive sleep patterns.

Respiratory Therapists also specialize in the operation and maintenance of cardiopulmonary life support systems such as mechanical ventilators for treating adults, children, and premature infants who cannot breathe on their own. They administer medications and oxygen to patients, and conduct rehabilitation activities such as low-impact aerobic exercise classes for persons who suffer from chronic lung problems.

They are also involved in education and prevention; they conduct smoking cessation programs and asthma education classes in the community. Respiratory care practitioners are valued members of the heath care team!

Q. What is the Ohlone/DVC Respiratory Therapist Program?

Ohlone College, located here in Fremont currently has a partnership program with Diablo Valley College (DVC), an excellent community college in Pleasant Hill, 40 miles to the north of Ohlone. This program serves a large area, primarily Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, although a number of graduates also are recruited by hospitals in Santa Clara County as well. It is the only program of this kind in the East San Francisco Bay Area! Graduates of this program are very respected because they have worked very hard to complete the program, and currently they are in demand by local employers.

Students working in the Respiratory Therapy Lab.This program is accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP) through the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (Co-ARC) as an "advanced level" respiratory therapy program preparing graduates to enter the work world as RRTs (Registered Respiratory Therapists). It takes everyone at least two years to complete the respiratory therapist coursework. Graduates then apply for a state license to practice respiratory care from the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) of the Department of Consumer Affairs in Sacramento. Upon completion of the state exam, they receive the Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) credential. They then apply for the Advanced Practitioner's Examination of the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) and upon successful completion are awarded the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.

Q. When can I apply to the program?

You can apply to the program each spring semester any time from March 15 to April 15 each year. (Check specific deadlines by requesting an application in late January of each new year.) It's a good idea to check out the profession thoroughly before you apply and leave plenty of time to take your prerequisite classes - go to See New RT Program Application Requirements. If you have not taken any previous college courses in English and Algebra you must sign up to take the ACCUPLACER Tes (see next question).

Q. What is the ACCUPLACER Test?

The ACCUPLACER Test evaluates English and math competency. This is a placement test with three sections (reading, sentence structure, and math). ENGL-101A or equivalent is required for admission. The English reading comprehension requirement is met through "clearing" ENGL-163 or ENGL-167.

The math requirement is met through "clearing" MATH-153 or MATH-155 (Intermediate Algebra). Students take the ACCUPLACER Test at the Placement Testing Center in Room 7205, Building 7, second floor, Fremont campus. If students have completed a college course in Intermediate Algebra or higher, they do not need to take the Math ACCUPLACER Test.

The schedule for ACCUPLACER Testing for applicants to the RT Program is listed on the Health Sciences Division website.

Students must schedule a testing date through the Placement Testing Center's reservations page. Space is limited to 30 students. Students must bring a photo ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.) and know their Ohlone College Student ID Number.

Sample questions and study guides are available.

If you have questions about the exam, contact the Placement Testing Center at (510) 659-6126. Be sure to specify that you are a Respiratory Therapist applicant or inquire online on the Placement Testing Center website.

Q. What other courses are required to be admitted to the RT Program?

See New RT Program Application Requirements.

Students working in the Respiratory Therapy Lab.Q. What are my chances of getting in to the program?

At the current time your chances are very good if you have completed at least the prerequisite courses listed, and excellent if you have taken any of the science requirements of the program as well. (Check out the yellow paper called "Respiratory Therapist Curriculum Guide" available from the Counseling Office at Ohlone or the Career Center at DVC for specific courses required in the Program or check the Ohlone College Catalog.)

Q. How long is the program?

The program takes a minimum of two years to complete. Even if you already have a Bachelor's degree or higher, it will still take two years. The courses are sequential and cannot be accelerated, even by those already holding advanced degrees.

Q. Can I be a part-time student?

You can! We are one of the only programs in the area to admit students who want to plan a longer program of study-keep in mind that it will take you three or four years to complete your degree if you start as a part- time student or change to part-time status while enrolled in the program. Many students complete the first year part time and then change to full-time status as a second year student.

Q. What grade point average (GPA) is needed?

In order to be successful in the Respiratory Therapist Program, it usually takes an overall GPA of 2.5 or better. Students admitted to the program must receive at least a "C" grade in all courses in the program in order to remain in good standing.

Q. Do I need any special supplies for the program?

Once admitted to the program, you will need to purchase a white uniform top or lab coat, nametag, and special RT student arm patch to be sewn on your top. RT Students also need a stethoscope, watch with second hand, and clear plastic goggles. Also, you will receive a list of lab supplies that you can purchase in the college bookstore as they are needed. The cost of these supplies is about $100.

The largest expense of the program is the books that are required throughout the two years, about $700. Also, some self-assessment exams are required in the last semester, currently about $150. You will also need to apply for your license and license exam in the last semester, currently approximately $650.

Q. Where are the classes for the joint Ohlone/DVC RT Program given?

Depending on the specific semester, classes are held in four locations. All laboratory classes are held on an Ohlone College campus. Some lectures are given in Pleasant Hill during the first year, and all remaining classes are given at DVCs extension site in San Ramon. Clinical classes are given at local hospitals.

The Ohlone/DVC RT Program is affiliated with these hospitals:

  • Alta Bates Hospital, Berkeley
  • Children's Hospital, Oakland
  • Eden Hospital, Castro Valley
  • John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek
  • Kaiser Hospital, Hayward and Walnut Creek
  • San Jose Medical Center, San Jose
  • Summit Medical Center, Oakland
  • Valley Care Hospital, Pleasanton
  • Washington Hospital, Fremont
  • Alameda County Medical Center, Highland Campus, Oakland

Q. Where can I get more general information?

To learn more about Respiratory Care check out AARC (American Association for Respiratory Care). AARC is the national professional organization for those who work as or are studying to be respiratory therapists.