Survey of Respiratory Therapy Education Program Directors in the United States

Authors: Barnes, Thomas A; Kacmarek, Robert M; Durbin, Charles G

Source: Respiratory Care, Volume 56, Number 12, December 2011 , pp. 1906-1915(10)

Publisher: The Journal Respiratory Care Company

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OBJECTIVE: As background for the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) third 2015 and Beyond conference, we sought information and opinions on the ability of the current respiratory therapy education infrastructure to make changes that would assure competent respiratory therapists in the envisioned healthcare future. METHODS: After pilot testing and refining the questions, we invited the directors of 435 respiratory therapy programs (based in 411 colleges) that were fully accredited or in the process of being accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care as of May, 2010, to participate in the survey. RESULTS: Three-hundred forty-eight program directors (80%) provided valid survey responses. Three of the 5 competencies related to evidence-based medicine and respiratory care protocols were taught less often in the associate-degree programs than in the baccalaureate-degree programs. Eighty percent of the baccalaureate-degree programs, compared to 42% of the associate-degree programs, instruct students how to critique published research (P < .001). Only 34% of the associate-degree programs teach students the general meaning of statistical tests, compared to 78% of the baccalaureate-degree programs (P < .001). Ninety-four percent of the baccalaureate-degree programs, versus 81% of the associate-degree programs, teach the students to apply evidence-based medicine to clinical practice (P = .01). Teaching students how to describe healthcare and financial reimbursement systems and the need to reduce the cost of delivering respiratory care (a leadership competency identified by the second 2015 and Beyond conference) was significantly more common in the baccalaureate-degree programs (72%) than in the associate-degree programs (56%) (P = .03). Other competencies showed trends toward differences, and the baccalaureate-degree programs reported higher percentages of success than the associate-degree programs. CONCLUSIONS: There are important differences between the baccalaureate-degree and associate-degree programs.

Keywords: accreditation; credentials; education; respiratory care; respiratory therapist; survey

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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