To Do List: Earn Your Associate’s Degree. Check! Now on to Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree

 Published: June 13, 2018

By: Heather Willden


image of woman studying

Respiratory therapy students all across the country recently walked across the stage to accept their associate’s degree in respiratory care. Most of them are already in the workforce, learning the ropes at their first real jobs in the profession.

For a growing number, though, the associate’s degree is just the first step in their education. They’ve seen the future, and they know they are going to need a bachelor’s degree to realize their full potential in the profession.

A good asset to have

Gessilda Galang finished her program at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ, in mid-May and is already looking around for a BSRT completion program to extend her education.

“I plan to pursue my studies and to further my education and get credentialed as much as I can to market myself in the field,” she said. “I feel the more I know about the profession, the more confident I will be to represent our profession and be an advocate to other people like health care workers, the students, and patients and family members.”

Brooke McGowan is currently a student at Concorde Career College in Texas and has another year to go before graduation. But furthering her education is already on her mind.

“I have been told that Midwestern State has a good bachelor’s program for respiratory care,” she said, noting it is all online and takes an additional year. “I am very interested in doing this following graduation in March of 2019.”

She believes the bachelor’s degree will be a good asset to have.

“I think it helps to move past the entry level positions and possibly go into the managerial aspect of respiratory care,” she said. “It also is just a good feeling to continue to excel in the field.”

Accomplishing a life goal

Amy Thulin also has a year to go to complete her associate’s degree – she’ll graduate from Tacoma Community College in Washington State in June of 2019 – but has plans to go on to get her bachelor’s degree from the same institution.

“I want to pursue a bachelor’s for a few reasons,” she said. “I will accomplish a life goal, and hopefully one day be able to advance in respiratory care to something similar to an advanced practice nurse.”

Heather De La Cruz will complete her associate’s degree at Florence Darlington Technical College in Florence, SC, at the end of July and is enrolled in the bachelor’s in healthcare administration program at Coastal Carolina University. She’ll begin her studies in the fall.

“I’ve always wanted to reach for my full potential in life, and I felt that I would do well in an administrative role later in my respiratory career,” she said. “I want to show many people what respiratory has to offer to everyone. Whether it would be for school, or just within the hospital, we are just as important as any other job performed.”

Future leaders

These young women are all on track to have successful careers in respiratory care. By extending their education to the bachelor’s degree level, they are positioning themselves to be among the next generation of leaders in the field as well.

Looking for more?

Visit Respiratory Therapy Degree Advancement

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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