LSUE Partners To Design A Revolutionary Educational Program

November 15, 2023

LSUE Group Picture

LSU Eunice, Ochsner Lafayette General and Acadiana Workforce Solutions officially unveiled its Respiratory Therapy Apprenticeship Customized Training Program on the campus of LSUE in front of several prominent members of the local community. The partnership is more than three years in the making and will provide an innovative and transformational approach to workforce development in the communities they serve.

This customized training program is the first of its kind in the state of Louisiana and offers students the unique chance to "earn while they learn" through a paid apprenticeship while pursuing an Associate of Science in Respiratory Care at LSU Eunice. This innovative venture is specifically designed to provide opportunities in the thriving Respiratory Therapy field for financially challenged families. Students benefit from paid positions at an Ochsner Lafayette General facility in Acadiana as they work towards their degree.

“It is critically important that our healthcare workforce looks like and has many of the same experiences as the people it serves,” LSU Eunice Chancellor Dr. Nancee Sorenson said.  “This partnership aims to combat some of those disparities while offering generational change for the students in the program through higher earning potential and better quality of life.”

In addition to the paid apprenticeship, students that agree to participate in the program will receive a $10,000 bonus to assist with costs incurred while attaining their certification.  Ochsner Lafayette General will provide this upfront bonus at $2,500 per semester completion, while the student agrees to 2.5 years of employment with Ochsner Lafayette General after graduation from LSUE’s Respiratory Therapy program.

The tuition and costs associated with the training will be paid for by the customized training program. Classes will be held at LSU Eunice’s campus inside the Medical Office Building at Ochsner Lafayette General Orthopedic Hospital, located at 4212 W. Congress Street in Lafayette.

"The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the crucial role of respiratory therapists, and it underscored the need for having a sufficient number of highly trained respiratory therapists to respond to and manage respiratory-related illnesses. Together with LSU Eunice, we are addressing that need head-on to educate, train and empower a team of future healthcare workers,” said Ochsner Lafayette General CEO Patrick Gandy.

An educational navigator will work directly with students to promote success and will identify social determinants that may influence the student’s ability to complete the program.

“Local Workforce Area 40 endorses the Customized Respiratory Training Program which expands a healthy workforce and stimulates economic growth.  This training project is critical while improving healthcare quality to be more affordable and accessible,” said Brenda Foulcard, Workforce Director of Local Workforce Area 40.  “The Customized Respiratory Program at LSUE in collaboration with Ochsner embraces diversity to its fullest, which means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.”

LSU Eunice’s Respiratory Care program is not only one of the few programs for Respiratory Therapists in the Acadiana area, but it is also regarded as one of the top programs in the state of Louisiana.  For nearly 20 years, LSUE Respiratory Care graduates have had a 100% employment rate and have seen a more than 98% success rate on graduates’ first attempt at national board examinations.

This partnership combats a growing need in Louisiana for Respiratory Therapist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects there will be a 23-percent increase in Respiratory Therapy jobs by 2030.  The bureau also reports that median pay for jobs in the field is more than $62,000 per year.