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Respir Care. 2011 May;56(5):681-90. doi: 10.4187/respcare.01169. Epub 2011 Jan 27.

Transitioning the respiratory therapy workforce for 2015 and beyond.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA. t.barnes@neu.edu

Abstract

The American Association for Respiratory Care established a task force in late 2007 to identify likely new roles and responsibilities of respiratory therapists (RTs) in the year 2015 and beyond. A series of 3 conferences was held between 2008 and 2010. The first task force conference affirmed that the healthcare system is in the process of dramatic change, driven by the need to improve health while decreasing costs and improving quality. This will be facilitated by application of evidence-based care, prevention and management of disease, and closely integrated interdisciplinary care teams. The second task force conference identified specific competencies needed to assure safe and effective execution of RT roles and responsibilities in the future. The third task force conference was charged with creating plans to change the professional education process so that RTs are able to achieve the needed skills, attitudes, and competencies identified in the previous conferences. Transition plans were developed by participants after review and discussion of the outcomes of the first two conferences and 1,011 survey responses from RT department managers and RT education program directors. This is a report of the recommendations of the third task force conference held July 12-14, 2010, on Marco Island, Florida. The participants, who represented groups concerned with RT education, licensure, and practice, proposed, discussed, and accepted that to be successful in the future a baccalaureate degree must be the minimum entry level for respiratory care practice. Also accepted was the recommendation that the Certified Respiratory Therapist examination be retired, and instead, passing of the Registered Respiratory Therapist examination will be required for beginning clinical practice. A date of 2020 for achieving these changes was proposed, debated, and accepted. Recommendations were approved requesting resources be provided to help RT education programs, existing RT workforce, and state societies work through the issues raised by these changes.

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