2006 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
EXPLORING RESPIRATORY CARE EDUCATION PROGRAMS THROUGH PROGRAM CURRICULUM, RESOURCES AND OUTCOMES
Arzu Ari, PhD, MS, CRT,
Background: Respiratory care education (RCE) programs have not been sufficiently studied; therefore, there is not enough research available regarding program characteristics including program curriculum, resources and outcomes. Respiratory care is a relatively new health care profession and more information is needed regarding the characteristics of RCE programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of Baccalaureate Science (BS) degree RCE programs in terms of program curriculum, resources and outcomes.
Method: The unit analysis of this study was BS degree RCE programs in the United States . After utilizing a mailed survey research method, the number of surveys returned was 36 with a 70.5% response rate. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions were conducted in order to identify the characteristics of BS degree RCE programs in the United States .
Results: RCE programs vary greatly in terms of program curriculum, resources and outcomes. For instance, the range of curriculum components such as RCE credit hours, clinical contact hours and laboratory hours was quite large among BS degree programs. The curriculum components of RCE programs are summarized as the number of responses (n), minimum (Min), maximum (Max), mean, and standard deviations (SD).
Curriculum n Min Max Mean SD
RCE Credit Hours 36 42 148 88.63 35.56
Clinical Contact Hours 36 200 1440 877.7 238.15
RCE Laboratory Hours 34 56 360 179.82 84.4
Program resources component was divided into three categories: (a) personnel resources, (b) financial resources, and (c) clinical resources. As for personnel resources of RCE programs, 28% of RCE programs did not utilize any part-time faculty members, while approximately 20% of the programs did not have any supporting full-time staff member. The faculty to student ratio of RCE programs was 1 to 4 and only 19% of faculty members held a PhD or EdD degree. Salaries of faculty and staff members made up 66% of total program expenditures, while the remaining of total financial resources (34%) consisted of total operating budget. Both total operating budget and total personnel budget had wide variation across RCE programs. Similar to other program resources components, clinical resources also varied widely from 1 to 31 clinical sites and BS degree RCE programs had affiliation with seven clinical sites, on average. Regarding program outcomes, the mean WRRTE scores of BS degree RCE programs ranged from 52 to 100. Overall, the mean WRRTE score was 77.52 (SD=12.70, n=36). The attrition rate ranged from 0 to 30% while the mean attrition rate was 10.99 (SD=9.26, n=35). The mean employment rate was 99.17% (SD=2.88, n=35) and ranged from 83.95% to 100%.
Conclusion: There are important variations not only in program curriculum and resources but also in program outcomes among RCE programs. Program directors, accrediting agencies and professional organizations must be aware of wide variations in the characteristics of BS degree RCE programs that may be affecting program performance on the WRRTE. Therefore, establishing standards on program curriculum, resources and outcomes for BS degree RCE programs are needed in achieving consistency in respiratory therapy education in the United States .