Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences

The country is experiencing unprecedented demand for respiratory therapists and the time has never been better to pursue a degree in respiratory care. A national shortage of respiratory therapists, combined with the increasing need to care for the aging population and the rapidly changing landscape of health care, creates a critical need for highly trained clinicians in the specialty.

Both the undergraduate and graduate degrees we offer are entry-to-profession degrees that prepare graduates to take national board examinations in order to obtain a state license to practice immediately following graduation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of respiratory therapists will grow by more than 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than average for all occupations.

Undergraduate Degree

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care

The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care program provides a broad education experience with rare opportunities for specialized training. These include participation in the inter-professional Pediatric Pulmonary Center at Children’s of Alabama, air and ground medical transport, clinical and research activities at the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Clinic, assisting on a cardiovascular diagnostics team and working with clinical trial managers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Lung Health Center.

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Graduate Degree

Master of Science in Respiratory Care

The Master of Science in Respiratory Care is the only program of its kind in Alabama, providing the clinical experiences of the bachelor’s program plus additional clinical hours that allow more intentional interaction with physician specialists. The master’s program is especially attractive for those students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and would like to earn a higher degree rather than a second bachelor’s degree.

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In the clinical practice rotations, students will have hands-on experiences to provide a realistic application of classroom learning. These rotations are a key component of the respiratory care programs, allowing students a supervised entry into patient care that develops care skills and confidence in one’s abilities.

Clinical sites will primarily be located in Birmingham with additional locations such as Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. Students will practice a variety of skills in rotations working side by side with experienced practitioners as they treat patients in all levels of acute care, from emergency department visits to surgical recovery. Special rotations such as fast-paced ground and air medical transport and fascinating clinical research are elective options. Students will also participate in comprehensive disease management and rehabilitative care, including liberating patients from artificial ventilation. As students progress through the program, they will have the opportunity for specialized rotations that suit their individual interests and allow them the opportunity to pursue a more focused career path.

Simulation Training

Health care simulation is an innovative, fun, and exciting way to learn and practice caring for patients. Through the use of simulation, respiratory care students will experience caring for a patient as a member of a health care team in a safe environment with no risk of harm to the patient. Students develop teamwork and communication skills by working with other disciplines including nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and many other members of the health care team. Students will have the opportunity to practice high-risk medical procedures and challenging interpersonal situations in a safe setting. This is especially helpful for experiences that do not occur routinely during clinical rotations.

Our 22,000 square foot state-of-the-art simulation center offers discipline specific and interdisciplinary learning opportunities across the simulation continuum. High fidelity simulators respond realistically to care and allow students to practice skills until they are comfortable with assessment and procedures. Our center features adult, pediatric, and neonatal simulators and a variety of patient care settings including inpatient hospital rooms, the operating room, and even a simulated home unit. Experiences that can be created include high risk deliveries, asthma attacks, traumas, and emergency situations. We also offer the capability for the simulation to be recorded to be viewed at a later time. The option to view simulation video is a great learning tool to for self-discovery and getting a 360 degree view of an experience.

Advisory Committee 

 The Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences advisory committee is a group of persons who are chosen from the communities of interest to advise educators regarding an educational program. Committee members should provide advice and support to the program through regular attendance at scheduled meetings and participation in program issues throughout the year.

  • Andrea White – Select Specialty Hospital
  • Bob Crumpton – Brookwood Medical Center
  • David Noles – Princeton Baptist Medical Center
  • Doug Clements – St. Vincent’s East
  • Jan Morson – public representative
  • Lisa Montiel – The Healthcare Authority for Medical West
  • Melessia Wells – UAB Kirklin Clinic
  • Melvin Grindberg – Grandview Medical Center
  • Phyllis Abrams – DCH Regional Medical Center
  • Reed Adair – St. Vincent’s Hospital
  • Rob Helmke – Shelby Baptist Medical Center
  • Robert Johnson – UAB Hospital
  • Robert Park – Children’s of Alabama
  • Stephanie Gamble – Pediatric Pulmonary Center
  • Wayne Byford – Huntsville Hospital