Survey of Directors of Respiratory Therapy Departments Regarding the Future Education and Credentialing of Respiratory Care Students and Staff

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

Source: Respiratory Care, Volume 57, Number 5, May 2012 , pp. 710-720(11)

Publisher: The Journal Respiratory Care Company

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OBJECTIVE: Information and opinions were sought on the need for graduating and practicing respiratory therapists to obtain 66 competencies necessary for practice in 2015 and beyond, the required length of respiratory care programs, the educational needs of practicing therapists, current and future workforce positions, and the appropriate credential needed by graduating therapists. METHODS: Survey responses from respiratory therapy department directors or managers are the basis of this report. After pilot testing and refining the questions, a self-administered, Internet based, American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) endorsed survey was used to gather information from 2,368 individuals designated as respiratory therapy department directors or managers in the AARC membership list as of May 2010. RESULTS: A total of 663 valid survey responses (28.0%) were received. On average, the vacancy rate of surveyed hospitals was only 0.81 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Responses by directors on 66 competencies described in the second 2015 conference as needed by graduate and practicing respiratory therapists indicated 90% agreement on 37, between 50% and 90% agreement on 25, and < 50% agreement on 4 competencies. There was no consensus among directors on the academic preparation of new graduates, with 245 (36.8%) indicating a preference for a baccalaureate or master's degree, 243 (36.7%) indicating a preference for an associate degree, and 176 (26.5%) indicating no preference. There were 270 (41.8%) respondents who indicated that a baccalaureate or master's degree in respiratory therapy should be required to qualify for a license to deliver respiratory care. The survey indicated that 523 (81.2%) of directors are in favor of the RRT credential being required to practice in 2015 and beyond. CONCLUSIONS: There was good agreement that graduate and practicing therapists should obtain the vast majority of the 66 competencies surveyed and that the entry level credential should be the RRT. Similar numbers of managers favored an entry level baccalaureate degree as favored an associate degree.

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

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Respiratory Care Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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