The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

1997 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Teresa J. Keppler, MSA, RRT, Ronald E. Dechart, MS. RRT. University of Michigan Health Systems. Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Background: Sweeping changes in the health care delivery system in the United States has lead to the need to find less costly ways of providing care to patients in acute care settings. Efficient utilization of health care resources is imperative if institutions plan to survive. One of the highest costs to any institution is human resources. Finding ways to shift work to less costly practitioners has become one way to control human resource costs. Respiratory Care Practitioners (RCPs) have been targeted as one possible group to assume new job duties in work redesign aiming to improve staff utilization. Adding new tasks and changing roles can affect job satisfaction. Assessing how these changes are perceived by the worker can help guide managers as they implement cross-training programs. Method: 1027 surveys were mailed to credentialed RCPs during the first two weeks of December 1996. The selection of the population was from the 51 Respiratory Care departments used for benchmarking through MECON - a data base service for peer comparison. The areas that were addressed for analysis include: overall job satisfaction, attitude towards cross-training, and attitude towards their profession. Questions were scaled using a Likert 5 point scale with 1 = strongly agree, and 5=strongly disagree. Data was analyzed using the descriptive statistics of count and percentage and the relational statistic used was the Chi Square. Results: The study produced 364 responses with 354 useable surveys from respondents out of 16 different states for a 35% overall response rate. The split by gender was 53.1% female and 46.9% male. Most (61%) were members of the AARC, and 82.8% were Registered Respiratory Therapists. Most respondents (92.1%) worked in University-Teaching hospitals with 60.7% of these institutions having more than 500 beds. The survey respondents were experienced both in the field and workforce, with 47.7% having over 10 years' experience as an RCP and 61.3% with over 10 years' experience in the workforce. Most (72.6%) of the respondents cited staff therapist as their job title. When the data was analyzed as a whole, 89.9% of the population responded positively when asked if they liked the work they do. The percentage of positive responses for the extrinsic rewards of pay, benefits, liking supervisory staff, and liking co-workers were 49.1, 75.2, 64.7, and 87 respectively. The intrinsic reward of opportunity for promotion drew a positive response from only 24% of the population. Feeling valued by supervisors evoked a positive response from 54.8% of respondents. The population as a whole had a positive attitude towards cross-training for new tasks. Only 35.9% of respondents gave a positive response when asked if they felt the profession of Respiratory Care was growing stronger. New tasks were viewed by 55.3% of the population as making them feel more professional. The majority of respondents felt they were an important part of the patient's health care team. For analysis of the study hypotheses, the respondents were grouped by the 31.1% who were cross-training and the 68.9% who were not involved in cross-training. This study found no significant difference between cross-training and non cross-training RCPs and their overall job satisfaction. Cross-training RCPs gave a more positive response when asked about extrinsic rewards than non cross-training RCPs, the difference approaching statistical significance. This study finds there is a significant difference between the two groups and their attitudes towards cross-training. The group that was already engaged in cross-training was the more positive one. This study finds there is a statistically significant difference between the two groups attitudes toward their profession. The cross-training group again responded more positively toward their profession. Conclusions: Respiratory Care managers should evaluate pursuing involvement in nontraditional therapies to achieve efficiencies in human resource management and reduce costs. Recommendation: Since the AARC is the national professional organization for RCPs, it should conduct a needs assessment of its membership to identify issues affecting attitude toward their profession. This study revealed that only 24% of the population felt that their jobs afforded them opportunity for improvement. It is important that Respiratory Care managers develop initiatives to maintain the job satisfaction of their workforce.