The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2007 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

IMPLEMENTING A RESPIRATORY STUDENT EXTERNSHIP

K. L. Menzies2, R. Ford2, L. Wood2, G. Faulkner2, E. Collado-Komen 2, T. Morris2

OBJECTIVE: The AARC Human Resource Survey indicates a 2005 vacancy rate of 8.65%, up from 5.96% in 2000. On a national and regional level respiratory care departments are competing for a limited number of RCP graduates. We elected to design an externship in collaboration with a local Respiratory Care College as part of a solution to the growing demand for trained RCPs. Last year we reported on the design and implementation of an externship program and managing the increasing costs of training, orientation and competency assessment is to incorporate programs that commit students to the department early in the course of their studies. We have since run this program for 18 months and can report our experience.

Method:
Student practitioners were interviewed as would any other potential employee and the best candidates selected. The externship was classified as a college course in which credit was earned through completion of specified competencies and 150 hours of work over a 12 week period. To attract the best, we elected the model of a paid externship. Two Externs were initially hired in 2006 and another four this year. We assessed the cost of the program and rate of retention.

Results:
A similar new employee orientation was provided to externs, however, secondary to the lower hourly rate the cost of orientation was approximately $3,000 vs. the $9,000 for a graduate RCP. We also found that secondary to the extended time and continuity of training associated with the program the externs after their first rotation were able to take on a progressive increase in patient care and eventually 100% productivity under direct supervision. Of the six externs in the program five have elected to stay as graduate RCPs. The sixth relocated out of the region.

Conclusions:
Programs can be successfully developed between hospitals and colleges to aid in recruitment and retention of qualified staff. The cost of orientation can be substantially reduced and externs transitioned to staff therapist at the completion of their externship program. Developing a program using staff involvement creates an atmosphere of teamwork and ownership.

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