The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2008 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Rick Nichols1, Christina Chao1, Kristie Mitton1, Jill Rickabaugh1, Erin Gunn1, Zeke Eide1, Kimberley Cumberbatch1

Background: Respiratory therapy programs in the United States show a pronounced range in the level of degree offered. Associate degrees are an academic requirement to become a CRT or RRT. However, bachelor and master degree programs are becoming increasingly popular. All programs consist of both didactic and clinical education, but the structure and format followed by these programs may vary by region, size of the school, degree conferred and relationship between classroom and clinical setting.

Objective: The objective of our study was to examine the variety of formats in respiratory therapy programs across the United Sates; specifically focusing on the type of degree awarded, the instructor-to-student ratio at clinical sites, the number of clinical hours required, the length of the program, and the CRT and RRT pass rates.

Methods: A nationwide survey of respiratory therapy programs was conducted. A survey was sent to a random sample (N=76) of programs nationwide. A total of 51 schools replied and provided data for a response rate of 67.11%. Every effort was made to preserve the data's accuracy. However, the presence of some inconsistencies dictated that in some cases logical omissions and clarifications had to be made. From the 51 schools that responded, the breakdown of degrees was as follows: AS (40), BS (10), MS (2). Some schools offer more than one degree type; such as both as associates and bachelors or both a bachelors and masters.

Conclusion: Based on these results, there is much variation when it comes to programs in the United States. The vast majority are AS programs with far fewer BS and MS programs. The number of clinical hours and the program length demonstrate a wide range, and may not be indicative of how well a student eventually may perform in credentialing pass rates. A single formula for success is not apparent from this study. There are multiple differences among the programs; which may reflect fluctuations in clinical or financial resources, or regionally determined demand for practitioners.