Respiratory Care Program At PBSC Earns Top National Award

Dr. Nancy Latimer observes students in PBSC’s respiratory care program laboratory on the Palm Beach Gardens campus.

Palm Beach State College’s respiratory care associate’s degree program has been recognized as one of the top programs in the U.S. with at least 90 percent of its graduates passing the national credentialing exam. Out of approximately 460 programs nationwide, PBSC’s is one of 139 to receive the Distinguished RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) Credentialing Success Award from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

CoARC, the nonprofit accreditation organization that assures the academic quality of degree-granting respiratory care programs, presents the award annually to highlight the value of the RRT credential as the profession’s standard of excellence.

“It’s a great honor to once again receive this prestigious honor by our accrediting body,” said Dr. Nancy Latimer, professor and chair of the respiratory care program. “Our graduates are in demand at healthcare facilities throughout Palm Beach County and the nation, providing critical care to patients suffering from breathing disorders. The award also shines a light on our dedicated faculty, as well as the clinical preceptors, supervisors and department managers at our clinical sites, who prepare the students to pass the RRT exam and excel in this challenging field.”

Latimer will receive a certificate of recognition during a reception to be held July 20 at the American Association for Respiratory Care Summer Forum in Fort Lauderdale.

Based on the Palm Beach Gardens campus, the program was the first of its kind in Palm Beach County when it began in 1989. Edward W. Willey, the program’s first director of clinical education, currently serves as dean of academic affairs for the Palm Beach Gardens campus and will soon move into the same role for the Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves campuses. Willey stresses the impact of the respiratory care program’s advisory board members, many of whom were his students and now hold management positions at Palm Beach County hospitals.

“Our advisory board and community partners have always been integral to the program’s success,” Willey said. “In addition to their time and expertise, they provide our students with exceptional clinical internships at their facilities, where they personally offer guidance and mentorship. It all adds up to results — our students graduate on time, pass their boards and launch successful careers in this field.”

As in many healthcare professions, the aging population is expected to drive the need for respiratory therapists, who serve patients with breathing problems, such as asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The profession is expected to grow 23 percent by 2026.

In addition to its CoARC accreditation, the respiratory care program is recognized by the American Medical Association. For more information, visit