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BACKGROUND: In the current health-care environment, respiratory care may need to make significant changes to academic preparation and clinical practice. The purpose of this research was to assess current needs of respiratory therapists (RTs) in New York State and to understand how RTs perceive their future clinical and academic roles.
METHODS: This study employed a descriptive, cross-sectional non-experimental design. Between October and December 2014, a 32-item online survey was distributed via e-mail to the 2,170 members of the New York State Society of Respiratory Care. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize responses, and bivariate analyses were assessed using Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U tests.
RESULTS: The response rate was 22% and resulted in 435 valid surveys returned. Seventy percent of 415 respondents agreed that the practice of respiratory care is at risk of losing practitioners. The most important incentive for retention of practitioners in the field was professional growth and an expanded scope of clinical practice. Specifically, the most important of these roles was gaining the ability to assess patients, develop a plan of care, and receive reimbursement for services. Sixty-four percent of 415 respondents strongly agreed that the minimum academic standard for RTs should be raised to the baccalaureate level. Of 415 respondents, the majority (78%) agreed that it is important for therapists to remain in the profession and to be an active member of the American Association for Respiratory Care (83%).
CONCLUSIONS: These data are useful to the profession, notably for academic programs that must meet the need for a more highly prepared and skilled workforce. The findings emphasize that viability of the profession in the current health-care environment calls for the evolution of a more autonomous RT who can be reimbursed for services and obtain salaries that are competitive with other health professions.
- respiratory therapist
- respiratory therapy technician
- scope of practice
- academic standard
- clinical role
- clinical ladder
- paradigm change
- out-patient care
- health-care environment
- Correspondence: Stephen G Smith MPA RRT, Stony Brook University School of Health Technology and Management, Respiratory Care Program, Health Science Tower, Level 2, Rm 441, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8203. E-mail: .
Mr Smith and Ms Endee presented a version of this paper at the Converging Science Summit, held April 27, 2015, at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.
The authors have disclosed no conflicts of interest.
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