Mission and Philosophy of the Respiratory Therapy Program

The mission of the Respiratory Therapy Program at San Juan College is to contribute to the healthcare needs of the community by preparing graduates in the practice of the profession of respiratory care. In so doing the graduates of the Respiratory Therapy Program at San Juan College will be prepared to take and pass the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) Examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The RRT exam is designed to objectively measure the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities of the entry level respiratory care professional.

San Juan Colleges’ Respiratory Therapy Program’s main goal is to prepare graduates with demonstrated competencies in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs) at the entry level to the profession.

The program’s goal is in line with the college’s ICARE values of providing excellent, innovative educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners in support of workforce and economic development through collaboration with clinical site affiliates.

The Respiratory Therapy Program asserts these beliefs:

  •  That a respiratory therapy student is considered an adult learner interested in an educational opportunity to study and learn the art and science of respiratory therapy; to achieve competence in the practice of the profession, and to develop and assume leadership roles in the field of respiratory care science


  •  That education is a life-long learning process where respiratory therapists and other healthcare professionals will continue to improve their competencies in patient care through continuing education and career advancement.


  •  That graduates of the Respiratory Therapy Program will serve their respective communities by becoming involved in programs or activities that will promote wellness and good health practices related to respiratory care through patient education, asthma education, smoking cessation program, and other relevant programs.


  •  That graduates of the Respiratory Therapy Program will be able to work professionally while modeling best practices of the profession alongside colleagues, with patients and other healthcare professionals while valuing our culturally diverse environment.

Medical Director for the Respiratory Therapy Program

Dr. SpencerDr. James Spence is the medical director of the Respiratory Therapy Program at San Juan College.  Dr. Spence is board certified in Internal Medicine and Critical Care Medicine and he currently serves as a board member of the New Mexico Medical Board.  Dr. Spence provides medical care to the community through private practice and an association with San Juan Regional Medical Center. The role of the medical director is to ensure that the medical components of the curriculum, both didactic and supervised clinical practicemeet current standards of medical practice; assure physician instructional involvement in the training of Respiratory Therapists; promote a positive learning and working environment, as well as support the vision, mission, philosophy and values of San Juan College.

Board Certification and Licensure

The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is the national credentialing agency that provides credentialing examinations in respiratory therapy, pulmonary function technology and sleep studies. It establishes standards to certify practitioners to work under medical direction; issues certificate to individuals who pass the certification and registry examinations. For more information, go to www.nbrc.org.

Upon graduation with an Associates of Applied Science degree from the Respiratory Therapy Program at San Juan College our graduates are eligible to take the NBRC entry level examination to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). The RRT is needed to apply for a State license in order to practice or work in the state. For more information on state licensure, please visit the Respiratory Care Advisory Board website.

With successful completion of the CRT exam our graduates are eligible to take the NBRC advanced practitioner examination to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). The Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) examination is an advanced practitioner examination. We strongly urge all graduates take this exam immediately following the completion of the CRT exam. The benefits of the Registry are access to promotion and increased pay.

Technical and Academic Skill Requirements:

Technical Skill

  • Physical Endurance, Mobility and Skill:
    • Stand (e.g., at client side during surgical or therapeutic procedure)
    • Sustain repetitive movements (e.g., CPR)
    • Walk fast or run (e.g., code blues/resuscitation)
  • Physical Strength:
    • Push and pull 50 pounds (e.g. position patient, move equipment)
    • Support 50 pounds of weight (e.g. ambulate client)
    • Carry equipment/supplies
    • Use upper body strength (e.g., perform CPR, physically restrain a client)
  • Hearing:
    • Hear normal speaking-level sounds (e.g., person-to-person report)
    • Hear faint body sounds (e.g., blood pressure sounds, assess placement of tubes)
    • Hear auditory alarms (e.g., monitors, fire alarms, call bells)
  • Visual:
    • See objects up to 20 inches away (e.g., information on a computer screen, skin conditions)
    • Use depth perception and peripheral vision
    • Distinguish color and color intensity (e.g., color codes on supplies, flushed skin/paleness)
  • Tactile:
    • Feel vibrations (e.g., palpate pulses)
    • Feel differences in surface characteristics (e.g., skin turgor, rashes)
    • Feel differences in sizes, shapes (e.g., palpate vein, identify body landmarks)
  • Emotional Stability:
    • Adapt to changing environment/stress
    • Deal with the unexpected (e.g., client condition, crisis)
    • Perform multiple responsibilities concurrently
    • Cope with strong emotions in others (e.g., grief)

Academic Skills

  • Math:
    • Comprehend graphic trends and read measurements
    • Calibrate equipment
    • Convert numbers to and from metric System (e.g., dosages)
    • Count rates (e.g., drips/minute, pulse, count duration of contractions, CPR, etc)
    • Read measurement marks (e.g., measurement tapes, scales)
    • Add, subtract, multiply, and/or divide whole numbers
  • Analytical Thinking:
    • Process information from multiple sources
    • Evaluate outcomes; Solve problems; Prioritize tasks
    • Use long-term and short-term memory
  • Critical Thinking:
    • Identify cause-effect relationship
    • Make decisions independently
    • Adapt decisions based on new information
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills:
    • Establish rapport with patients and interact with families and groups
    • Respect/value cultural differences in others
    • Negotiate interpersonal conflict
    • Listen/comprehend written/spoken word
    • Manage clinical information