Wellstar Health System and Georgia State University’s Department of Respiratory Therapy in the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions announce a $320,000 grant to expand the pipeline of respiratory therapy (RT) professionals.

“Respiratory therapists are a vital part of the care team and are in critical demand – a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and felt throughout the healthcare industry,” said Julie Teer, president of the Wellstar Foundation. “The Wellstar Foundation is proud to increase the workforce pipeline by collaborating with and funding Georgia State to hire an additional faculty member to lead a new clinical cohort of RT students at Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center.”

The faculty shortage is a major barrier to increasing program enrollment and adding this position will result in a 20 percent increase in the program’s enrollment capacity.

“Highly educated respiratory therapists will always be needed, but due to the pandemic and the burnout of healthcare practitioners, the job market is wide open for new graduates,” said Dr. Doug Gardenhire, chair of the Department of Respiratory Therapy.

Over 150,000 respiratory therapists work in the United States, and 92,000 are likely to retire by 2030. In addition to faculty shortage, demand for professionals that outpaces the capacity of degree programs also contributes to the national shortage of respiratory therapists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of RT positions will grow by at least 19 percent through 2029 due to an aging population and increased cases of respiratory illness.

“There are more than 17,000 advertisements for needed respiratory therapy positions around the country, and the need is no different in metro Atlanta,” said Gardenhire. “This partnership with Wellstar allows us to educate and graduate more baccalaureate and master’s degree prepared respiratory therapists.”

Georgia State’s RT program is one of only two U.S. programs to receive the American Association for Respiratory Care Apex Award for three consecutive years. The award recognizes respiratory care in clinical care facilities and educational programs that highlight best practices with evidence-based medicine. Over the past decade, every Georgia State RT graduate has earned a 100 percent pass rate on the licensure exam.

“This grant helps strengthen our relationship with Wellstar and will bring more of our students into the Wellstar system for clinical practice and potentially for employment after graduation,” said Dr. Huanbiao Mo, dean of the Lewis College. “Congratulations to RT faculty and leadership for forging this successful clinical partnership.”

Explore how the Lewis College at Georgia State is producing respiratory therapists and other professionals prepared for the frontlines of healthcare at lewis.gsu.edu. See how corporate and foundation partner and individual donor dollars are making a difference at Georgia State at giving.gsu.edu. Learn how Wellstar Foundation, through philanthropy and partnership, is making a meaningful difference in the health of our communities at wellstar.org/foundation.

gsu receives grant
Click to watch 11 Alive coverage of partnership between Wellstar and Georgia State University.