WINDSOR, ONT. -- St. Clair College Respiratory Therapy students are being called to action amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students have been granted early licences.

The change will impact 13 students, who are in their third year of studies.

They will be eligible to receive their licences from the College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario, according to Connie Sivyer, coordinator of the Respiratory Therapy program at St. Clair College.

“The regulatory body is not graduating the students. That’s up to the colleges,” Sivyer said. “But they are saying even though they are not graduated, they are close enough. We will give them a license to practice.”

The students will be required to complete online classes and exams in order to graduate, Sivyer said.

“They may in fact have to go back and do some clinical placements, but we have not identified those gaps yet,” she added.

Sivyer said the students will have to apply to Health Force Ontario, which is dealing with nurses and other health care professionals whose licences have lapsed but want to re-enter the field to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

The aspiring Respiratory Therapists “have sufficient training to be significant and valuable assets to whoever takes them on board,” Sivyer said.

There has been a reported shortage of Respiratory Therapists across the province by hospitals. There are approximately 3,000 therapists across Ontario, thus the decision by the CRTO to grant early licencing to help with this shortage.