Jul 23, 2024  
PUBLISHED 2023-2024 Credit Catalog 
PUBLISHED 2023-2024 Credit Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Respiratory Therapy

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Program Description

Respiratory Therapy is a diverse and specialized profession that assists physicians in diagnosing, treating and managing patients by providing such services as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, ventilator management, oxygen and aerosol therapy, patient assessment and evaluation, and diagnostic services including pulmonary function testing and blood analysis. Since 1970, SAIT has been providing students with the right combination of leading-edge theory and hands-on practice needed to succeed.

This comprehensive program features classroom study, lab and clinical simulation, and practicum rotations in acute and community care facilities. Students will complete practicum rotations in adult, pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, the emergency department, anesthesia, wards, home care, pulmonary function and blood gas labs.

As trained Respiratory Therapists, our instructors are well equipped to offer the latest insights into new technology and best practices in the field, including through SAIT’s Centre for Advanced Patient Care Simulation. This is a simulation education facility that uses high-fidelity human patient simulators that physiologically respond to medical treatment.

Program Overview

Fast Facts

  • Practicums will include shifts during weekdays, weekends, and evening or overnight hours
  • Based on the availability of the practicum sites, students may have to travel or re-locate to anywhere in Alberta (and in some circumstances outside of Alberta) in order to complete their practica
  • The program will strive to assign practicum rotations according to students’ regional preferences, however, placement at preferred sites is not guaranteed
  • Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum, including pre-practicum requirements as outlined by the program, and relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary
  • During the program’s third year practicum rotations, students will be required to return to SAIT for 1-2 weeks per semester for on-campus learning activities
  • Students will participate in learning a number of skills that are usually practiced on other students. All skills are performed in a safe setting and supervised. Typically, students take turns acting as patient and the Respiratory Therapist, however, students have the option to opt out of role-playing as the patient. Students may still be required to perform these skills on their classmates
  • Students require a personal computer with Internet in order to complete the required courses

Your Career

Graduates find employment as respiratory therapists in acute care hospitals, community and home care programs, diagnostic laboratories, educational institutions, research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, medical sales and services, and private companies. Future career opportunities may also exist in research, education, administration, and management. Learn more about the respiratory therapy profession at careercruising.com. The login is: SAIT and the password is: Polytechnic.

Student Success

Job expectations for success in this profession include:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)
  • Able to work independently
  • Able to participate in classroom, lab, and practicum activities as scheduled by the program
  • Adaptable
  • Able to work well under stress
  • Able to use technology
  • Attention to detail
  • Able to maintain professional behaviour; emotional self-regulation
  • Able to wear Personal Protective Equipment for extended periods of time
  • Able to work extended hours, including nights and/or weekends and shift work
  • Able to tolerate the sight of human blood and tissue
  • Able to assist in transporting, lifting, and positioning of patients and/or equipment
  • Able to meet the physical demands of the job (e.g. spend most hours working on your feet, walking, repetitive bending, repetitive tasks)
  • Able to tolerate latex and disinfection chemicals
  • Comfortable with performing patient care procedures which may be sensitive or performed in close proximity

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for Respiratory Therapy, as well as the National Competency Framework for the profession, to ensure that they are able to successfully demonstrate the skills required to achieve all the competency-based objectives for the program and profession.


Upon successful completion of this program, graduates will be awarded a SAIT Respiratory Therapy diploma.

Graduates from the SAIT program must successfully challenge the Canadian Board of Respiratory Care (CBRC) examination to earn the right to practice Respiratory Therapy in Canada. Any graduate wishing to work in Alberta must be a member of the College and Association of Respiratory Therapists of Alberta (CARTA) and pay the membership fee. If English is an additional language, they must also provide proof of meeting a benchmark score of nine in all of the Enhanced Language Training Placement Assessment’s categories.

Graduates wishing to work outside of Alberta need to be registered with that province’s provincial regulatory body for respiratory therapy.  All graduates may become members of the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) by paying the membership fee, and this is a requirement in an unregulated province.

After graduates become members of a professional organization, they may register with the CBRC by paying the national examination fee, which will then allow them to challenge the national exam.


The Respiratory Therapy program delivered by SAIT is accredited by Accreditation Canada. The program also works closely with our Advisory Committee to ensure that our curriculum continues to exceed provincial and national accreditation standards.


Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Admission Requirements

Completion of the following courses or equivalents:

  • At least 70% in Math 30-1, or at least 75% in Math 30-2,
  • At least 70% in English Language Arts 30-1,
  • At least 70% in Chemistry 30,
  • At least 70% in Biology 30.

Successful applicants must meet or exceed a score of 50% in the School of Health and Public Safety’s Entrance Testing Process.

All applicants must demonstrate English Language Proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada. This can be demonstrated by meeting the requirements listed on the English Language Proficiency webpage, or by achieving level 9 in all categories of the Enhanced Language Training Placement Assessment (ELTPA).

Applicants who intend to work in Alberta after graduation, and whose first language is not English, will need to meet the English language requirements of CARTA. Please visit the CARTA website www.carta.ca to find out those details, and contact the CARTA registrar with any questions related to their requirements.

Program Outline

Total Credits 96

Program Outcomes

  1. Use effective written, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills in all respiratory care practice settings
  2. Demonstrate compassion and respect in all aspects of respiratory care practice
  3. Provide patient care using assessments, diagnostics and skills as outlined by the National Competency Framework for the Profession of Respiratory Therapy
  4. Adhere to legal and ethical requirements with personal and professional accountability and responsibility to ensure the protection and safety of practitioners, patients and the public
  5. Collaborate effectively within the interdisciplinary team to achieve a high standard of patient-centered care in all aspects of respiratory care practice
  6. Use critical thinking skills and an evidence-based approach in all aspects of respiratory care practice to optimize patient care
  7. Plan for participation in life-long learning and continuing education in order to excel in personal practice as a respiratory therapist
  8. Educate patients, families and other caregivers to encourage self-management and improved quality of life for respiratory care patients
  9. Create a community of knowledge sharing and professional pride through education and preceptorship of students, peers and interprofessional team members
  10. Demonstrate proficient use of technology to promote best practice in respiratory therapy

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