The California Respiratory Care Board is the licensing agency for Respiratory Care Practitioners in the state of California. Its mission is to protect and serve California consumers by licensing qualified respiratory care practitioners, enforcing the provisions of the Respiratory Care Practice Act, expanding the availability of respiratory care services, increasing public awareness of the profession, and supporting the development and education of respiratory care practitioners. Recently, Steve Vinci, one of the partners of Sleep Education Partners and authors of sleepedu.org courses was recommended to represent specialty care on a Focus Group, which he participated in March 2023. The following is the background to the Focus Group discussions.
The California Respiratory Care Board, (RCB), commissioned a study of the state’s Respiratory Care workforce in 2014. This study was performed by the Philip R. Lee Institute for Healthcare Policy Studies from the University of California San Francisco. They reported their findings in 2017. A pertinent excerpt from the study’s Executive Summary is included below, and a link to the entire study report is also provided.
UCSF – California Respiratory Care Workforce Study finding – “Although there was support among participants for maintaining the current standard of requiring an associate degree for entry into professional practice, overall, there was stronger support for shifting respiratory therapy education to the baccalaureate degree level. RC directors felt strongly that moving respiratory therapy education to the bachelor’s level would raise the field’s professional standing and help create career opportunities. RTs in the focus groups saw value in the additional didactic and clinical training, believing it would produce therapists who are clinicians as opposed to technicians. Focus group participants also cited the need for RTs to keep pace with the general trend toward higher degrees in health professions education. Education program directors expressed the belief that shifting to the bachelor’s degree would allow more in-depth coverage of topics that are highly compressed in the current curriculum due to time constraints, and that it would likely increase students’ exposure to clinical procedures. However, the most important factor driving support among education directors was the expectation that a bachelor’s degree program would further encourage the development of critical thinking and clinical reasoning.”
One of the next steps in this long-term process is to reach out and form the next level of Focus Group information gathering, for which Steve participated with leaders from respiratory education, critical care, management, etc. As home care is considered part of the specialty care, he offered his opinion based on his lengthy experience in home respiratory care, sleep medicine, accreditation surveyor and leadership positions in respiratory care. Steve also served on the Professional, Technical and Advisory Committee for the Joint Commission representing home care. During the Focus Group discussion, Steve and his fellow participants were asked their input to the following questions:
- Do you agree with the findings of the UCSF California Workforce Study?
- How would a bachelor’s degree requirement for RCP’s
affect patient safety?
- What barriers are there for increasing RCP educational requirements?
- Are there any benefits for the public in requiring a bachelor’s degree for RCP’s?
- How would you structure a tiered license to enhance patient safety?
- How would an RCP internship/residency requirement affect the public?
- Should interns/residents be paid, if so, how would you structure that?
- If a residency was required to obtain an RCP license, where / in what type of settings should residencies be offered?
- Is there anything you would like to add to this discussion?
The results gathered from multiple focus groups will be combined and reported to the Respiratory Care Board.