SJR State respiratory care program achieves national distinction

Holly Coulliette

For a second year in a row, St. Johns River State College's respiratory care program has been honored with the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award.  SJR State is one of only 62 colleges and universities nationwide to be honored with the award - an achievement that places the College's program in the nation's top 13%.

The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) awarded the College after measuring the program's success using several rigorous criteria. The CoARC Board selects colleges by using key accreditation metrics the programs must meet or exceed, including passing rates for the two national certification exams and job placement.

SJR State President Joe Pickens, J.D., said he is extremely proud that the College's vision for academic excellence and student success has positioned the respiratory care program to receive the esteemed recognition for two consecutive years.

"While our commitment to provide an exceptional respiratory care program is evident among our students and health care industry partners, this national recognition is a much-deserved honor for our dedicated faculty members who go above and beyond their role as educators," Pickens said. "It's also an indication of the caliber of students who graduate from our program each year and propel the profession forward."

Dr. Anna Lebesch, SJR State's vice president for workforce development, said the award is presented as part of the CoARC's continued efforts to value the RRT credential as a standard of professional achievement.

"From a program effectiveness perspective, the CoARC views the credential as a measure of a program's success in inspiring its graduates to achieve their highest educational and professional aspirations," she said. "This status validates our hard work and ability to think outside the box, apply new learning strategies in the classroom, and communicate and collaborate effectively as a team."

"Special recognition goes to our associate dean and to the clinical education director," Lebesch continued. "Holly Coulliette, Associate Dean of Allied Health and Program Director of Respiratory Care, and Debra Maugeri, Director of Clinical Education, were both instrumental in our attaining this award. It is because of their commitment to our students that we were able to achieve this success."

Of the 28 state and community colleges in Florida, Broward College, Indian River State College, St. Petersburg State College, Palm Beach State, Santa Fe College and Florida Southwestern State were also among the 62 colleges to receive the award.

SJR State's respiratory care program will accept applications for the 2016 spring semester through September 15.  Classes will begin in January and are based on the St. Augustine campus with selected clinical courses scheduled in health care facilities within the regional area. 

SJR State's Respiratory Care program provides students with the knowledge, attitude and skills required to help meet the demands for respiratory therapists in the health care industry. Students will be trained in the skills needed to work in areas such as pediatric care, nursing homes and in hospitals. Asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer and pneumonia are some of the conditions that require the care of a respiratory therapist.

Upon successful completion of the degree requirements, students will be eligible to apply to take the national certification exam for Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential, which is administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care.   

For more information, call (904) 808-7465 or visit the College online at

SJR State's respiratory care program was recently honored with the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award - an achievement that places the program in the nation's top 13%. Pictured is Holly Coulliette, SJR State's Associate Dean of Allied Health. The award was presented during the American Association for Respiratory Care's Summer Forum.