The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2010 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Kathy J. Rye1,2, David C. Shelledy3; 1College of Health Related Professions, Cardio-Respiratory Care Program, University Arkansas Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR; 2Central Arkansas Veterans Health System, Little Rock, AR; 3College of Health Sciences, Rush University, Chicago, IL

Background: A greater emphasis on interdisciplinary education (IDE) of health professionals is needed to promote collaborative, cost-effective and patient-centered care. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of IDE in respiratory care (RC) educational programs across the United States (US) and to determine the attitudes of program directors (PDs) regarding IDE activities. Methods: A questionnaire addressing the practices of and perceived needs for IDE was developed and field tested. Two hundred two (202) PDs were invited to participate in the survey through electronic mail which included a link to the online questionnaire. Anonymity of responses was maintained, collected data were compiled into an Excel database and descriptive statistics were calculated. Results: Participants included 52 RC PDs (26% response rate) from across the US at a variety of institutions (65% from 2-year colleges; 22% from 4-year colleges or universities; and 10% from academic health centers). Associate degrees were offered at 81% of these programs and baccalaureate degrees at 33%. Thirteen percent (13%) of the programs offerred both associate and baccalaureate degrees. More than half (58%) of the responding PDs indicated they incorporate planned interdisciplinary activities involving students from two or more disciplines into their program’s curriculum. These activities occur most frequently in the clinical setting, during traditional classroom activities, or in web-based courses. Ninety-eight percent (51/52) of survey participants had a positive attitude toward IDE and believe it is or would be beneficial to students. However, only about 50% (25/52) of the program directors believe that they have the resources needed to implement IDE. Conclusions: IDE is important in the preparation of future health professionals and has the potential to be incorporated into the education of RC students. More attention should be focused on increasing the number of RC educators who have the resources needed to teach from an interprofessional perspective and to share best educational approaches for collaborative patient-centered practice. Providing IDE is essential to ensure RC graduates are prepared to work effectively on interprofessional teams within the evolving healthcare system. Acknowledgements: Margaret Harris,PhD; Rebecca Ludwig,PhD,RT;Terry Dubose,MS; Michael Anders,PhD,RRT; Becky Butler,MSSW,LCSW; and Sarah Jackson,MS,CGC. Sponsored Research - None