Colleges 2MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/9/19) — Madisonville Community College has signed a partnership agreement with West Kentucky Community and Technical College and Murray State University today to expand MCC’s associate in applied science degree in respiratory care program into the Jackson Purchase area.

This partnership, which is funded through a Delta Health Care Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will extend the reach of MCC’s respiratory care program to help fulfill the need for qualified respiratory care technicians within the region. 

Respiratory instructors said during a press conference held today at the Steve Beshear Post Secondary Education Center that they have been working to expand the program, with backing from the DRA, for the past decade due to growing healthcare needs in the Delta region.

Dr. David Heplin, vice president of WKCTC, said the $315,000 Delta Authority grant will pay for coordinanting and initiating the program as well as computers and programming to expand the respiratory care program in the Paducah area.

"We had a need in the Murray area for respiratory care," he said. "We partnered with an existing institution along with MSU and it helps everyone," that will strengthen business and industry needs in the region.

“WKCTC is excited to participate and support the Delta Health Care Grant with Madisonville Community College and Murray State University," WKCTC President Dr. Anton Reece said. "We have received requests from our health care partners regarding the rising demand for respiratory care and this partnership is a unique collaboration to meet that demand."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for respiratory care therapists are projected to increase by 23 percent through 2026, with an additional 30,500 new positions expected nationally. That demand is impacting employers throughout the Western Kentucky and Jackson Purchase regions.

Dr. Cindy Kelley, president of MCC, also spoke during the press conference.

“Our program in respiratory care has been accredited since the 1960s,” Kelley said. “We are well-established and well-respected by facilities throughout western Kentucky and we have faculty who are highly qualified in the field. ”I am proud of our program and proud to work with our sister institution and with MSU as our regional partner to fulfill a need for qualified respiratory therapists in the state."

Respiratory care students in the Paducah area will participate in class lectures through synchronous, bi-directional distance learning from MCC’s Health Technologies Campus to WKCTC’s campus, college officials said. Students will complete skill demonstration lab activities in-person in Madisonville on a bi-weekly basis.

In the respiratory care program, students are trained in supporting cardiopulmonary health, rehabilitation, therapeutics, and life support. Graduates from the associate in applied science degree program are eligible to sit for the certified respiratory therapist licensure exam, which is recognized nationally as the professional standard for respiratory therapists.

Through the collaboration, MCC will partner with MSU to develop curriculum for a bachelor’s degree completion option for graduates of the associate degree program.

“I think this initiative is extremely important,” MSU president Dr. Robert Jackson said. “We are excited about the future, respiratory therapy, our bachelor’s program and this partnership with two wonderful colleges.”

The program through MSU will provide an option for students in the region to obtain a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care, which is a recently adopted recommendation from the American Association of Respiratory Care for entry-level employment in the field.

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Pictured with Respiratory Care students are (back row, middle) Dr. Anton Reece, president of West Kentucky Community & Technical College and Dr. Robert Jackson, president of Murray State University, (front row) Dr. Cindy Kelley, president of Madisonville Community College, and (third from right) Tina Siddon, respiratory care program coordinator.

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