Cabarrus College Introduces Respiratory Therapy Program

August 22, 2022

A group of respiratory therapy students practicing treatments on a dummy.

CONCORD, N.C. – Cabarrus College of Health Sciences continues to expand its program offerings with the introduction of a new Bachelor of Science degree in respiratory therapy. The new respiratory therapy degree is an accelerated program, designed to be completed in three years and created to help meet education and healthcare needs in the community. 

“Healthcare facilities across the state and throughout the region are experiencing staffing shortages, and due to the long-term effects of COVID 19, the need for respiratory therapists is especially acute,” said Cabarrus College President Cam Cruickshank, PhD. “Our program enables students to earn their bachelor’s degree in just three years rather than the usual four, so they can graduate and start working as soon as possible.”

Educational standards for respiratory therapy are evolving, just as they are for many other healthcare professions. Currently, a two-year associate degree is required to gain accreditation and begin practicing as a respiratory therapist, but the American Association for Respiratory Care has begun recommending a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement.

“It’s just a matter of time before healthcare institutions will desire for most of their respiratory therapists to be trained at the bachelor’s degree level,” said Lanny Inabnit, MS, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, RCP, FAARC, chair of Cabarrus College’s new respiratory therapy program. “So, the timing is right for us to add this degree. Ours is only the second bachelor’s-level entry-to-practice respiratory therapy program in North Carolina and the only one that can be completed in three years. Students can spend just one more year than they would have spent getting an associate degree, and they can graduate with a bachelor’s degree that prepares them for management, leadership and the future of the respiratory therapy profession.”

In addition to being North Carolina’s only three-year respiratory therapy bachelor’s degree, Cabarrus College’s program is offered at its facility on the campus of Atrium Health Cabarrus, making it the only hospital-based respiratory therapy program in North Carolina.

“Learning in an immersive healthcare environment like we have at Cabarrus College and Atrium Health Cabarrus gives our students a leg up in terms of clinical experience,” said Inabnit. “They get access to Atrium Health clinical sites, state-of-the art tools and technology and the opportunity to learn from and alongside the region’s most experienced healthcare professionals.”

Respiratory therapy is a burgeoning field within the healthcare arena. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of respiratory therapists will grow 23% through 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.  

“Having worked and taught in the respiratory therapy field for 28 years, I can honestly say it’s a specialty that anyone with an interest in healthcare should consider,” said Inabnit. “It offers a wide variety of career options, you’ll never have trouble finding a job, and every so often, you get to save someone’s life. What could be better than that?”

Cabarrus College is now accepting applications for the fall 2023 semester of its Bachelor of Science in respiratory therapy.  Prospective students may call the college at 704-403-1555 or visit for more information.

*Cabarrus College’s Bachelor of Science in respiratory therapy is a new program; approvals by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care are pending.