The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2007 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

COMPARISON AND EVALUATION OF ASTHMA EDUCATOR CERTIFICATION EXAM SCORES BETWEEN RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS AND NURSES

S. Blonshine1, S. McCormick2, D. R. Wissing3

Background: The first asthma educator certification examination (AE-C) was offered by the National Asthma Education Certification Board (NAECB) on September 19, 2002. Since the inception of the exam, almost 2000 individuals have successfully earned the designation of AE-C. The 2 largest groups applying for the exam are respiratory therapists (RTs) and nurses. The NAECB reported an initial pattern of the nursing pass rate exceeding the pass rate of RTs in 2003. The pattern appears to have persisted on each successive exam form since then. Pass rates also appear to be correlated with a higher education level. A comparison and evaluation of the pass rate for each profession and related educational level was completed.

Methods: Means were compared disaggregated by both education level and occupation per form and combining 6 forms.

Results: First time candidates were evaluated with 810 nurses and 1009 RTs completing the exam. The educational level of the nurses includes 13% receiving a diploma, 17%, an Associate, 36%, a Baccalaureate, 33%, a Masters and 1%, a PhD. For the RTs, the breakdown was 8%, 44%, 35%, 11%, and 1% respectfully. The mean score overall is similar per education level up to a Master’s degree. Nurses with Master’s degrees are outscoring RTs with Master’s degrees 4.6 points within a 95% confidence interval, (119.8061, 121.8139) and (116.0048, 116.3752). Given the relatively small sample sizes in each form, the performance gap is consistent across forms with candidates indicating a Master’s degree and working as nurses consistently outperforming candidates indicating a Master’s degree and working as RTs.

Discussion: For some forms, there is a statistically significant difference, but for other forms, there is not. This is most likely a product of sample size differences. When forms are combined, although they are equated in terms of test specifications, difficulty, and discrimination, the forms are not exact and therefore, candidates are being judged on different sets of items put together to be only similar and not exactly equal. The differences and patterns between occupations warrant further study perhaps identifying educational preparation that may impact pass rates. Additional demographics may also be investigated such as clinical practice site.

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