MADISONVILLE, Ky. — Murray State University, Madisonville Community College (MCC) and West Kentucky Community & Technical College (WKCTC) signed a formal partnership Sept. 9 that will expand MCC’s respiratory care program into the Jackson Purchase area while providing new baccalaureate degree options at Murray State.

The partnership, which is funded through a Delta Health Care Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will extend the reach of MCC’s respiratory care program to help fulfill the need for qualified respiratory care technicians within the region.

Respiratory care students in the Paducah area will participate in class lectures through synchronous, bi-directional distance learning from MCC’s Health Technologies Campus to WKCTC’s campus. Students will complete skill demonstration lab activities in-person in Madisonville on a bi-weekly basis.

Pictured with Respiratory Care students are (back row, middle) Dr. Anton Reece, president of West Kentucky Community & Technical College and Dr. Bob Jackson, president of Murray State University, (front row) Dr. Cindy Kelley, president of Madisonville Community College, and (third from right) Tina Siddon, respiratory care program coordinator.

Through this collaboration, Murray State will partner with MCC to develop curriculum for a bachelor’s degree completion option for graduates of the associate degree program. The University’s program will provide an option for students in the region to obtain a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care, which is a recently adopted recommendation from the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) for entry-level employment in the field.

“I think this initiative is extremely important,” said Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson. “We are excited about the future, respiratory therapy, our bachelor’s program and this partnership with two wonderful colleges.”

“WKCTC is excited to participate and support the Delta Health Care Grant with Madisonville Community College and Murray State University,” said WKCTC President Dr. Anton Reece. “We have received requests from our health care partners regarding the rising demand for respiratory care and this partnership is a unique collaboration to meet that demand.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for respiratory care therapists are projected to increase by 23 percent through 2026, with an additional 30,500 new positions expected nationally. That demand is impacting employers throughout the western Kentucky and Jackson Purchase regions.

“West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s partnership with MCC and Murray State highlights our responsiveness to meeting business and industry needs in our region,” said Dr. David Heflin, WKCTC vice president of academic affairs. “The combined resources of our institutions will provide our students an incredible opportunity.”

“Our program in respiratory care has been accredited since the 1960s,” said MCC President Dr. Cindy Kelley. “We are well-established and well-respected by facilities throughout western Kentucky and we have faculty who are highly qualified in the field.

“I am proud of our program and proud to work with our sister institution and with Murray State University as our regional partner to fulfill a need for qualified respiratory therapists in the state.”

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