New fast-track seats for respiratory therapists to help British Columbians

October 29, 2021 at 9:44 am  BC, News, Politics

People with acute critical conditions and cardiac and pulmonary disease will benefit from an additional 20 new fast-track seats added to Thompson Rivers University’s (TRU) respiratory therapist diploma program.

“We are committed to training, recruiting, and hiring a new generation of health-care professionals at all levels, including respiratory therapists, who are vital members of the health-care team,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This program is an excellent example of home-grown talent adding to our health-care system. On Respiratory Therapy Week, I would like to recognize respiratory therapists working with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thank the students who embark on this career path.”

To increase the number of respiratory therapists in B.C., the Ministry of Health provided $320,000 to TRU to expand its respiratory therapy diploma program. This funding allows TRU to add 20 additional one-time seats for the diploma fast-track stream to June 2023. Students started the program in September 2021.

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training will provide TRU with one-time funding of $65,900 for skills-training equipment to support expansion of this program. Equipment includes a new ventilator to support student learning.

“Respiratory therapists are vital members of the health system, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how essential they are,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Expanding the number of respiratory therapists has never been more important, and these new fast-track seats mean more British Columbians experiencing lung and breathing issues can get the care they need.”

Students with a bachelor of science or associate of science degree can apply for the fast-track option. Students can directly enter the second year of the diploma program after successfully completing other requisite coursework. The fast-track option can be completed in two years.

Respiratory therapists provide care in hospitals, homes and community health clinics, and are integral to team-based primary care. They can help assess and perform medical tests and provide a range of treatment options for cardio-respiratory diseases, as well as providing airway/breathing support in acute situations, and providing lung health information and education to patients.

This announcement builds upon $4.4 million last year for new seats for health-care workers, including respiratory therapists, to help government respond to local and emerging needs, including critical care, and are in addition to ongoing support of health-care education programs at post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.


Brett Fairbairn, president and vice-chancellor, Thompson Rivers University –

“The expansion of the respiratory therapy program will fulfil a high-demand need for trained professionals, who will learn in TRU’s new Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health. The growth of this program will allow students to transform themselves and the health of the communities they will support in the future.”

Mike Lemphers, chairperson, TRU Allied Health department –

“This funding is vital for the TRU respiratory therapy program to help meet the huge demand for respiratory therapists within this province. The capital funding enables us to purchase a new Servo U ventilator. This helps our students gain experience on the newest ventilator models and applications that are used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.”

Tracey Rannie, executive director, Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) –

“Respiratory therapists play an incredibly important role in our health-care system across Interior Health, including RIH. This is a highly rewarding and in-demand career that can lead to jobs right here in Kamloops at RIH. This additional investment will support people throughout the Thompson-Cariboo region and bring much-needed access to these highly trained professionals for Interior Health.”

Tajinder Khosa, TRU fast-track respiratory therapy student in clinical practicum at RIH, expected to graduate April 2022 –

“It’s a great option, especially for students like myself who have completed their undergrad and are looking for a career. With the fast track, it is a heavy load, but it is manageable. You work with everyone from newborns taking their first breath to the most acute patients in the ICU, and you get to work with a lot of different technology. Wanting to work in health care, I thought it was the perfect role for me.”

Learn More:

Fast-track diploma program at Thompson Rivers University:

Learn about the respiratory therapy program at TRU:

Fast-track skills training opportunities in StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan:

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