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Here's how Wellstar is helping GSU address the high demand for respiratory therapists

The university said Wellstar will grant them $320,000 to help expand their respiratory therapist program.

ATLANTA — Georgia State University and the Wellstar Health System are taking measures to address the high demand for respiratory therapists (RT) in the U.S.

Wellstar will help GSU hire a new staff member to lead a new class of students into young professionals by awarding the university a $320,000 grant. 

The president of the Wellstar Foundation, Julie Teer, said that having respiratory professionals is even more important now after the pandemic. 

"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," Teer said.

Dr. Doug Gardenhire, chair of the GSU respiratory therapist department, said the burnout caused by the pandemic for RT is one of the reasons why his department has been working towards the grant. 

GSU's new hire will also take care of the growing shortage in the job market, allowing more new graduates to be hired. 

"This partnership with Wellstar allows us to educate and graduate more baccalaureate and master's degree-prepared respiratory therapists," Dr. Gardenhire said. 

The expansion would provide a pipeline of RT to the Wellstar Health System. 

"The main goal is to increase the number of respiratory therapy students into our program that would then be able to increase the number of potential students to the Wellstar Hospitals, which then would convert to be able to have employable respiratory therapists for their hospital system," Dr. Gardenhire explained. 

According to the university, at least 150,000 respiratory therapists work in the country, but at least 92,000 are likely to retire within the next seven years. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the number of therapists needed will increase due to the aging population and increased cases of respiratory illness.

Over the past decade, every GSU respiratory therapist graduate has earned a 100% pass rate on the exam to receive their license.

To learn more information about the program, visit here.

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