Millersville University is on its 6th year and counting of being nationally recognized for the school’s Respiratory Therapy program.  The program, which began in 1963 as a training course, has transformed into a concentration within the biology and Allied Health Technology majors.

Millersville University’s Respiratory Therapy program recently received the 2020 Distinguished Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) Credentialing Success Award from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), an independent accrediting body. CoARC grants accreditation and recognition to respiratory care programs that undergo peer review and meet standards set by the organization.

Elaine Chrissos, Respiratory Therapy Program Director, shares what she thinks makes Millersville University’s Respiratory Therapy Program special. “I am very proud of our graduates for pursuing the RRT credential. These exams are quite difficult, and the students work hard during the program to be successful graduate respiratory therapists. Most of the students are offered positions during clinical rotations at our affiliate hospitals prior to graduation. Employers are attracted by the baccalaureate degree as well as the RRT credential they know our new grads will achieve.”

“Students are attracted to Millersville for the award-winning program and others hear about it from students already in the program or those who have graduated from the program,” continued Chrissos. “It’s good motivation for them to work at becoming professionals in the field and it is a big dedication on their part to be successful.”

Chrissos explains some of the changes the program has faced during the COVID-19 crisis, “The students were not permitted to complete the first few weeks of the summer clinical practicum. This was noted nationwide with other colleges and universities restricting students in the healthcare professions from clinical. A main concern was the students’ well-being during the pandemic, as well as preserving the personal protective equipment for trained healthcare providers.”

Despite some of these restrictions, the program was able to be modified to continue with the safety of students in mind. “Programs, including ours, put online simulation modules in place so the students could continue to practice through simulation even though hands- on care was halted,” Chrissos shares, “Students received grades for their work during this time until clinical was rescheduled. We were able to get students back to clinical in June. They go through daily screening at the hospital when they come on shift and they are not permitted to take care of any patients with COVID-19 or suspected of having COVID-19.”

The program is also continuing this fall, “We have confirmed from our affiliates that the students will be able to complete the final clinical practicum for the program,” says Chrissos. “They will follow guidelines for each affiliate with daily screening and will not be exposed to COVID-19 patients.”

Chrissos also talked about how the award helps students. “Students are attracted to Millersville for the award-winning program and others hear about it from students already in the program or those who have graduated from the program. It’s good motivation for them to work at becoming professionals in the field and it is a big dedication on their part to be successful.”

CoARC looks at programs which have three or more years of outcomes data, hold accreditation without a progress report to address deficiencies, documented RRT credentialing success of 90 percent or above and by meeting or exceeding established CoARC thresholds for success, retention and graduation rates.

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