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Technical Standards

The profession of respiratory therapy is a highly respected one. The reasons for this are many, but a great deal of it has to do with the fact that patients put their lives in our hands. Patients place their trust in health care providers and we, in turn, must be worthy of that trust. 

In order to become a member of a trustworthy allied health profession, there are several essential requirements. These have to do with responsibility, accountability, knowledge, skill and safety. The respiratory program has the responsibility to the public to assure that its students and graduates are competent in all of these areas and at the appropriate level. The program adheres to the definition, requirements, and procedures for licensing as defined in the state statutes (WAC 246-928-410 and WAC 246-928-510). The faculty models professionalism and requires that students be accountable and assumes a measure of responsibility to adhere to the standards of practice. The profession of respiratory therapy requires the acquisition of respiratory science knowledge and technical skills. Respiratory faculty, students, as well as graduates are held to these laws. The educational process to achieve the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy requires assimilation of this knowledge, as well as the development of critical thinking, judgment and appropriate decision-making. State licensure requires for reporting of unprofessional conduct (WAC 246-928-710).

With the acquisition of this knowledge, students and graduates must be able to function as safe practitioners. Patient safety is a major concern for establishing requirements for capabilities of students. In order to safely function in the roll of a student and/or respiratory therapist, one must exhibit physical, cognitive and behavioral abilities that are required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the Respiratory Therapy Program. Collection, evaluation and synthesis of data are vital to this discipline. In addition, there are professional attributes that are required by the profession. All of these are every bit as important as the knowledge and skill.

The therapeutic modalities provided by respiratory care practitioners require technical skills involving manual dexterity and a mechanical aptitude to perform in a safe and acceptable manner. Respiratory therapists must be mobile and have the ability to operate in relatively small spaces. These requirements are necessary because of the critical and accurate care that is often provided in crisis situations. To make sure these requirements can be met, the Respiratory Care Program at Tacoma Community College has come up with the following technical standards:

Physical Demands: Respiratory therapy students must be able to display the medium strength rating, as described by the Dictionary for Occupational Titles, which reflects the ability to exert 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally (occasionally: activity of condition exists up to 1/3 of the time), and/or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently (frequently: activity or condition exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time), and/or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly (constantly: activity or condition exists 2/3 or more of the time) to move objects.

Motor Skills: Respiratory therapy students must be able to execute motor movements including the physical/dexterity strength to stand and ambulate and possess the physical/dexterity strength to lift and transfer patients. Candidates/current respiratory therapy students must also have the physical strength to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Respiratory therapy procedures require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision. For this reason, candidates for admission to the Respiratory Therapy program must have manual dexterity and the ability to engage in procedures involving grasping, pushing, pulling, holding, manipulating, extending and rotating. Examples of such procedures would include, but not limited to:

  • Draw venous and arterial blood
  • Perform endotracheal suctioning
  • Provide percussion and postural drainage for bronchial hygiene
  • Perform manual resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a cardiac emergency
  • Maintain and modify equipment in routine emergency situations
  • Be able to move life support equipment in a rapid manner during a crisis situation
  • Be sensitive to changes in pressure when performing emergency breathing with a manual resuscitator in the newborn and small infant as compared to the adult victim
  • Tactile sensitivity required to perform arterial puncture on the newborn and small infant.

Sensory/Observational Skills: Respiratory therapy students must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in laboratory experiments as required in the curriculum. Respiratory therapy students must be able to observe patients and be able to obtain an appropriate medical history directly from the patient or guardian. Such observation requires the functional use of vision, hearing, and other sensory modalities. Respiratory therapy students must have visual perception which includes depth and acuity.

Communication Skills: Respiratory therapy students must be able to:

  • Communicate in English effectively and sensitively with patients.
  • Communicate in English in oral and handwritten form with faculty, allied personnel, and peers in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.
  • Be sensitive to multicultural and multilingual needs.
  • Complete written assignments and search and evaluate the literature.
  • Maintain written records.
  • Complete assessment exercises.
  • Use therapeutic communication, such as attending, clarifying, coaching, facilitating, and touching.
  • These skills must be performed in clinical settings, as well as the didactic and laboratory environments.

Intellectual/Conceptual, Integrative, and Qualitative Skills: Respiratory therapy students must have the ability to:

  • Measure, calculate reason, analyze, and synthesize data.
  • Problem-solving and diagnosis, including obtaining, interpreting, and documenting data
  • Learn to use computers for searching, recording, storing, and retrieving information. 
  • These skills allow students to make proper assessments, sound judgments, appropriately prioritize therapeutic interventions, and measure and record patient care outcomes. 

Behavioral/Social Skills and Professionalism: Respiratory therapy students must:

  • Demonstrate attributes of empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation.
  • Possess the emotional well-being required for use of their intellectual abilities, including the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the evaluation and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients.
  • Be able to adapt to ever-changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties and stresses which are inherent in the educational process, as well as the clinical problems of many patients.
  • Be able to maintain professional conduct and appearance, maintain client confidentiality and operate within the scope of practice.
  • Have the ability to be assertive, delegate responsibilities appropriately, and function as a part of a medical team.
  • Possess organizational skills necessary to meet deadlines and manage time.

The Respiratory Care program at Tacoma Community College will make every effort to provide the physically compromised student the opportunities to learn and develop into a safe, rational respiratory care practitioner. It is incumbent upon the student to realize that certain manual, technical, and professional tasks must be mastered in order to achieve passing grades and to successfully complete the respiratory therapy curriculum. 

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