Jun 18, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

5140 Department of Respiratory Therapy

1228 Urban Life Building
Douglas S. Gardenhire, Department Chair
Robert Pettignano, MD, Medical Director


Respiratory therapy is a health care profession dedicated to the support and management of individuals with abnormalities or deficiencies of the cardiopulmonary system. The respiratory therapist is an expert in therapeutic and diagnostic modalities associated with the pulmonary system, as well as the heart. He or she must have a working knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, and physiology as well as respiratory therapy. This background affords the therapist the ability to become proficient in working with respiratory life support systems. Under the guidance and supervision of a physician, the therapist treats by employing academic knowledge and technical skill for direct patient care. For a dedicated man or woman who finds a service field rewarding, respiratory therapy offers a career opportunity as a vital member of the health care team that is both personally and financially rewarding.


The Department of Respiratory Therapy offers a program that leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. The program provides classroom study with observation, clinical experience, independent study, and seminars. The Georgia State University respiratory therapy program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). The program provides classroom study, laboratory study and observation, clinical experience, computer- assisted instruction and simulation, seminars, and independent study. Classes generally meet on a daily basis from approximately 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Clinical courses in area hospitals (clinical affiliates) meet generally from 6:45 AM to 7:30 PM.


The overall purpose of the Department of Respiratory Therapy is to provide a quality education that is relevant and professionally sound to meet the respiratory therapy needs of the health care community. Inherent to this purpose is the goal to prepare respiratory therapists who are able to demonstrate the attitudes, skills, and knowledge required to meet the changing needs of the community. It will be necessary for the respiratory therapist to cooperate with all members of the health care team in identifying and solving the problems related to respiratory diseases and disorders of the cardiopulmonary system. The respiratory therapist must be able to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate good judgment, and provide self-direction. It is a primary objective of the respiratory therapy program to educate well qualified, competent respiratory therapists who demonstrate leadership ability.


The baccalaureate degree program in respiratory therapy seeks to establish an atmosphere in which the student achieves respect for the dignity and worth of the individual, the capacity for critical thinking, a genuine desire for knowledge, and the realization of his or her own potential. Graduates of the baccalaureate program are qualified to enter the Registry Examination System of the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

Clinical Course Requirement

Students who must complete a clinical component as part of their program of study must complete the department’s health form and provide evidence of current tuberculosis status, immunization for hepatitis B, and review of current CDC guidelines on universal precautions. The health form and review of CDC guidelines on universal precautions must be updated annually. Clinical agencies may require additional evidence of health status. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with the graduate program director in their academic unit prior to beginning a clinical assignment. Liability insurance must be purchased before the clinical course begins.

Criminal Background Check and Drug Screen

Your application for licensure may ask you to respond to questions regarding any violations of federal, state or local law. You may be required to provide documentation to the state licensing board explaining any such occurrence. The individual state licensing agencies have exclusive authority to issue a license and could decline to issue such a license based on an applicant’s prior criminal record.

  Additionally, many of the clinical sites with which we have a clinical agreement require criminal background checks, finger printing and drug screen prior to allowing the    student to be placed in the facility. The clinical facility has the right to deny the student an internship in the facility based on the findings of the criminal background       check or drug screen.

Program Financial Information

During the junior year, students can expect to pay approximately $1600 for uniforms, stethoscopes, student liability insurance, books, clinical tracking system, clinical site onboarding and background check. In the senior year, expenses are estimated at approximately $1200. This includes books and expenses related clinical training, NBRC self- assessment exams.

Program Academic Regulations

A minimum grade of C is required in all major, major-field-related, and mathematics and natural sciences courses for graduation. If a student’s progress is interrupted at any point in the program through withdrawal or unsatisfactory performance, the student will no longer be in the program. If an individual applies to reenter the program, consideration will be given on the same basis as any new applicant. Curriculum changes are made whenever necessary to keep the learning experiences up to date and relevant in this rapidly changing technological field. Students will be expected to subscribe to these changes whenever they are necessary.


Students are expected to provide their own transportation to clinical training sites. Students are expected to comply with the policies and regulations of the division regarding absences, tardiness, standards of performance, conduct, dress code for the clinical areas, and other regulations as specified. A copy of these policies and regulations may be obtained from the division and will be given to all entering students.


Respiratory therapy courses are intended to be taken by students majoring in the Department of Respiratory Therapy. All professional courses involving a component of clinical training are open only to professional program majors.