Respiratory Therapists (RTs) possess a unique body of knowledge, which when shared with others, promotes the best possible outcome for patients, colleagues, students, and the public. In one way or another, all RTs provide education to those around them. However, it is important to differentiate between RTs who provide education and RT educators.
RTs Who Provide Education
The Professional Responsibilities standard in the College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario (CRTO) Standards of Practice outlines the expectations for all Respiratory Therapists (RTs) who are Members of the CRTO.
RT’s “are responsible for educating other healthcare team members, including students regarding respiratory health and the role of RTs”. In general, this means that RTs in all practice settings have some role in providing education.
The CRTO Standards of Practice also articulates the expectation that RTs “deliver information in a manner that acknowledges individual diversity and health literacy and facilitates patients’/clients’ understanding of pertinent information”. RTs accomplish this by:
demonstrating best practices to students;
providing presentations or in-services for colleagues;
consulting with the health care team;
engaging in discussions about current RT practice with fellow RTs and students, as well as patients/clients, family members and un-paid caregivers.
This practice guideline provides information on the standard of practice related to the responsibilities of RTs when providing education. These principles apply when providing education in any setting, including:
other health care providers (nurses, physicians, etc.);
RTs and other health profession students; and
patients/clients and their families.
While all RTs are expected to educate others by sharing their knowledge, postgraduate training is often required to become an official “educator”. An educator is a person who specializes in the theory and practice of education. Educators have a thorough understanding of how adults learn best and creatively integrate this knowledge into the instruction and design of their education programs.
Most RTs who are educators work as instructors at respiratory therapy education facilities, and have taken postgraduate courses to gain greater knowledge of adult education principles. However, some RTs complete postgraduate certification programs that provide some additional knowledge about adult learners and prepare them to act as an educator in a specific area. Examples of some certification programs are:
Certified Asthma Educator;
Certified Respiratory Educator; and
Certified Tobacco Educator.
Home Care RT providing education to staff in a long-term care facility
RTs who are employed by home care companies are often contacted to provide education to interdisciplinary groups in long-term care facilities on topics such as non-invasive ventilation and suctioning. In these circumstances, the RT is not required to ensure competency by the end of the learning session, or guarantee that a mechanism will be in place to ensure ongoing competency after leaving the facility. The purpose of the learning session in this case is to provide a forum for introduction and/or review of the skill(s). The objectives of the teaching session should be clearly defined at the beginning of the learning session. This will minimize any possible confusion related to the training purposes and will help define the learning outcomes that participants should expect.
Authorized Act a controlled act, or portion of a controlled act, that is authorized within a health profession Act for a health professional to perform [there are five (5) acts authorized to Respiratory Therapists by the Respiratory Therapy Act, that are created from three (3) controlled acts defined in the RHPA]
Members is a respiratory therapist who is registered with the CRTO; including Graduate Respiratory Therapists (GRT), Practical (Limited) Respiratory Therapists (PRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT).
- College of Nurses of Ontario. (2002). Professional Standards. Retrieved from: https://www.cno.org/globalassets/docs/prac/41006_profstds.pdf
- College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (2021) Professional Responsibilities in Medical Education. Retrieved from: https://www.cpso.on.ca/Physicians/Policies-Guidance/Policies/Professional-Responsibilities-in-Medical-Education
- Health.Vic (2020) The Best Practice Clinical Learning Environment (BPCLE) Framework (health.vic.gov.au). Retrieved from: https://www.health.vic.gov.au/education-and-training/best-practice-clinical-learning-environment-bpcle-framework