Madison College Partners With UW Health to Launch the First Respiratory Therapist Registered Apprenticeship in US


Madison College, UW Health and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development have launched the nation’s first respiratory therapist registered apprenticeship.

The three-year program is open to UW Health staff, who can apply starting April 1. Graduates will earn an associate degree and become licensed registered respiratory therapists after passing board examinations.

Respiratory therapists are in high demand, providing critical care to patients with acute and chronic respiratory conditions, including those impacted by COVID-19.

Madison College’s partnership with UW Health and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, shows its commitment to solving workforce challenges with industry partners in a variety of creative ways, says Marissa Tokarczyk, interim dean for the School of Health Education at Madison College.

Last April, Madison College partnered with UW Health and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to create a four-year registered nurse apprenticeship, with 16 students in the inaugural class. The program will welcome a new class this month.

Madison College student learning about respiratory techniques
Respiratory Therapists work in a wide variety of clinical settings to evaluate, treat and manage patients with respiratory illnesses and other cardiopulmonary disorders.

“The School of Nursing is excited to continue its collaboration with UW Health in welcoming the second cohort of RN Apprenticeship students,” Tokarczyk says. “We are also excited and proud to launch the first respiratory therapist apprenticeship in partnership with them this upcoming fall.”

With workforce demand outpacing the supply of graduates, academic and clinical partnerships that support incumbent workers, who would otherwise not be able to pursue higher education, are essential to addressing shortages in our Wisconsin healthcare workforce, Tokarczyk says.

Both apprenticeship programs support racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse healthcare personnel to pursue an associate degree.

There will be five people in the first respiratory therapy apprenticeship group. Apprentices will work as respiratory therapist assistants for the first 12 months of the program and as student respiratory therapists for the last 24 months.

Madison College faculty will provide classroom instruction, including prerequisite coursework and core respiratory therapy-specific courses.

After graduating and passing the board examination, the apprentices will transition into respiratory therapy positions at UW Health.

Read the full UW Health press release.