The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2006 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


J. Cefaratt RRT,BS,NPS

Air Evac Services Inc., Phoenix , Arizona

Background: Transport is not normally a part of the Respiratory Therapy curriculum at most colleges. Students may be exposed to transports inadvertently if the area they are assigned to happens to receive the order, but the focus is still more on patient care than on the aspects of transport. Because transport is not typically introduced to students many are not aware that there are programs that utilize Respiratory Therapists (RTs) in a specialized capacity. Consequently when many of these students become RTs and discover this area of the profession they do not have the necessary experience or requirements to apply. Resultantly there is a continuous shortage of qualified RTs to select from for hire.  Most programs require three to five years of ER or ICU experience with certifications in ACLS, PALS and NRP. Most programs require RRT within one year of hire. Many RTs that apply end up returning to the respiratory field to obtain the necessary experience and often times lose inerest.

After meeting with members of other flight programs, usually in round table discussions, it became apparent that we all share the same concern and that is not having a good base of qualified RTs to hire. If a program attempts to hire less qualified RTs in many cases they can not complete the training as they become overwhelmed or feel lost in the training phase and they drop out wasting valuable time and money in training.  A power point presentation was developed in a generic fashion which includes photos from many programs across the country with varied capacities of transport. This includes Ground, Rotor Wing, Fixed Wing (both civilian and military), interfacilities, scene calls, disaster evacuations, local, national and international. The presentation focuses on what a Transport Respiratory Therapist is, what the varied roles are, scope of practice and what is required to be qualified. We discuss the various types of transports that may be encountered i.e. neonatal, pediatric, maternal, trauma, pulmonary, etc. Some programs actually require paramedic status at the time of hire or within a specified time after hire. Respiratory Programs are contacted at various colleges and appointments made to give a one hour presentation on Transports to the students, usually in their last semester. After the presentation a question and answer period is provided. AARC membership is also emphasized at the student level so that they may keep current with the field and become familiar with the various programs. The goal here is to guide the students into the proper areas to obtain experience after they enter the field, such as ICU/ER, NICU, PICU rather than Home Care or general floor therapy. This hopefully will expand  the base of eligible RTs for hire and increase membership in the Transport Section of the AARC.

The presentation has been well received with a strong interest by several students. Even some instructors were interested and not fully aware of this area of the field. It is too early to evaluate the true affect as the students will have to graduate and gain their experience before a stronger base is seen. Hopefully memberships will also start to rise.

Each presentation has generated a strong interest with a new awareness of the field of Transport Respiratory Therapy and gave the students another option to think about after completion of school. It is believed that the more the students are aware of this field the more qualified RTs will be applying for future jobs in this growing and exciting field.