Allies in health

TU and CCBC partner to offer dual degrees in allied health, respiratory therapy

Towson, Md. (July 22, 2008)—Students seeking an education in respiratory care therapy who want a traditional four-year undergraduate experience need no longer choose between an associate and a bachelor’s degree.

Starting this fall, TU and the Community College of Baltimore County in Essex will collaborate to offer students an opportunity to earn dual degrees—a Bachelor of Technical and Professional Studies in allied health with a respiratory therapy track and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in respiratory care therapy.

“The BTPS in Allied Health with a respiratory therapy track is designed for incoming TU freshmen who want a respiratory therapy degree without sacrificing the traditional four-year undergraduate experience,” explains Marcie Weinstein, associate dean of the College of Health Professions.

Weinstein says the dual degree program is a natural progression of TU’s 2+2 offerings with community colleges. The BTPS in Allied Health with a respiratory therapy track was originally designed for respiratory therapists who have already earned an associate degree and who want to return to school for a four-year degree. TU began offering the specialized curriculum as a convenient and an efficient way for working professionals to earn their bachelor’s degrees. It’s the only fully online program TU offers at the undergraduate level.

When first-year students already enrolled at TU became aware of the program, they, too, wanted an opportunity to earn an associate degree in respiratory care therapy. “Rather than force students to choose between CCBC and TU, it made sense for both schools to offer a coordinated program that gives students the best of both campuses,” Weinstein says.

The respiratory therapy track is a screened program. During their first year, prospective students take all their coursework at TU. Along with prerequisite courses in Allied Health, students fulfill general education requirements, as would most TU students. During the spring of their first year, these students apply to CCBC’s Respiratory Care Therapy program.

Students accepted into the CCBC’s RCT program begin working on their associate degree during their second year, taking classes at both campuses: one course apiece at CCBC during the fall, spring and summer terms, with the rest of their course load at TU. The situation reverses for the third year, with students taking most of their classes at CCBC and one or two class per term at TU. They complete their associate's degree at the end of the third year.

During their fourth year, the respiratory care therapy track students are fully enrolled at TU, where they will take courses in advanced respiratory therapy and finish the year with a bachelor’s degree.

Weinstein says focus groups with area employers revealed that students with a bachelor’s degree were perceived to have better communication skills and better critical-thinking skills. Employers are also attracted by the advanced competencies in various health science disciplines these students attain.

“Respiratory therapy is one of the one of the health-care disciplines experiencing the greatest work force shortages in Maryland,” says Weinstein. “With additional training through the bachelor’s degree, our students will be even more competitive in this field.”

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