The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2000 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

RESPIRATORY CARE MANAGERS' VIEWS ON BACCALAUREATE AND MASTER'S DEGREE EDUCATION

Ellen A. Becker, PhD, RRT, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY

PURPOSE: A prior study indicated that many RTs without baccalaureate degrees desire to complete one and considered pursuing a degree through distance learning (DL). The same RTs were uncertain if managers would value their degree major and a degree earned through DL. Less information is known about master's degrees for RTs, thus managers' opinions were solicited. METHODOLOGY: A mailed survey was sent to 1444 members of the AARC's Management Section. Regarding baccalaureate education, managers were asked about their preferences for RTs with baccalaureate degrees, values of different majors, and values about degrees earned using DL. Attitudes toward DL, content and target audiences for master's degree programs, and demographic data were also collected.

Results: Twenty-six percent of managers representing varied practice settings responded. For baccalaureate degrees, advanced practice was valued highest followed by management, teaching, science, business, and liberal arts. For 70% of respondents, hiring preference is for RTs with baccalaureate degrees. If earned through DL, 60% felt the degree equivalent to a traditional degree, 23% lower, 3% higher, and 14% were uncertain. Of the 58% of managers who hired RTs with pre-professional degrees earned through DL, 81% were satisfied with the RTs' knowledge level and 87% would hire another RT with pre-professional DL preparation. Regarding preference for baccalaureate vs. associate degree pre-professional preparation, 34 % had preference, 28% no preference, and 38 % no opinion. When asked for preference o Managers felt graduate degrees were valuable for managers, educators, supervisors, and clinical specialists. More than 50% of managers gave high value ratings to advanced physiology, evaluating patient programs, designing patient programs, patient education, disease management, administrative issues, and computer skills for graduate content areas. Although 95% of managers would recommend graduate programs with some DL courses, only 75% recommended programs offered solely through DL.

Conclusions: Advanced practice majors are a viable consideration for RT baccalaureate completion. The majority of managers who hired RTs with pre-professional DL preparation were satisfied although some managers valued a degree earned through DL less. While managers preferred hiring RTs with baccalaureate degrees, pre-professional baccalaureate preparation was not preferred. Graduate degrees are supported for managers, educators, supervisors, and clinical specialists and most managers supported some use of DL for this degree.

Managers' Value Ratings of Baccalaureate Degree Majors
Degree Major High Value n (% of total) Moderate Value n (% of total) Low Value n (% of total) No Response n (% of total)
Advanced Practice 264 (72.7) 80 (22.0) 11 (3.0) 8 (2.2)
Management 191 (52.6) 150 (41.3) 17 (4.7) 5 (1.4)
Teaching 179 (49.3) 147 (40.5) 33 (9.1) 4 (1.1)
Science 169 (46.6) 152 (41.9) 34 (9.4) 8 (2.2)
Business 130 (35.8) 182 (50.1) 43 (11.8) 8 (2.2)
Liberal Arts 22 (6.1) 147 (40.5) 185 (51.0) 9 (2.5)
Other 18 (5.0) 4 (1.1) 3 (0.8) 338 (93.1)
Total respondents n = 363.
Respondents were asked to rate each of the degree majors.

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