To better understand the hiring needs, requirements and preferences of hospitals and other organizations that employ respiratory therapists (RTs), the San Francisco Bay Region Center of Excellence (COE) conducted a survey to gather information that would assist community colleges with preparations to offer a bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy. Currently, Foothill College and Hartnell College are applying to offer a bachelor’s degree program.
The survey sought to determine current and future labor market demand for RTs, level of difficulty finding qualified RTs, employer preferences for education levels, RT recruitment strategies, and employer interest in collaborating with community colleges with respiratory therapy programs.
Survey questions also covered current workforce training and development practices, trends related to respiratory care practices and clinical skills, and employer perspectives on bachelor’s degrees in respiratory therapy.
The survey was completed by 17 employers and overall findings indicate strong support for offering a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy at Bay Area community colleges. Survey participants reported currently employing nearly 1,100 RTs and expect to employ more than 800 additional RTs in the next 12 months.
Almost all respondents indicated that the scope of practice and clinical skills for RTs have expanded and become more complex, and more than half of employers reported experiencing some difficulty to extreme difficulty in finding qualified candidates for positions. Many employers also gave examples of tasks they would prefer to have RTs with a bachelor’s degree perform.