Respiratory care clinical education: a needs assessment for preceptor training

Respir Care. 2009 Jul;54(7):868-77. doi: 10.4187/002013209793800358.


Background: There has been a growing interest in the use of volunteer clinical preceptors to provide clinical instruction to respiratory therapy (RT) students. However, many RT preceptors have had little or no training in preceptorship. We sought to identify the preceptor training needs of programs that lead to the Registered Respiratory Therapist or Certified Respiratory Therapist credential (RT programs).

Methods: Via e-mail we asked the directors of accredited RT programs to respond to a Web-based survey.

Results: Seventy-four RT program directors, from programs across the United States, responded. Eighty-two percent of the respondents' programs offer an associate's degree and 16% offer a baccalaureate degree. The majority of the respondents' programs use unpaid clinical preceptors. Thirty-two percent of the respondents indicated that the preceptors had received no preceptor training. Among the preceptors who did receive training, the duration of training ranged from 1 hour to 6 weeks. The training was typically delivered by the director of clinical education or program faculty. Eighty-one percent of the respondents believed there is a need for a standardized preceptor-training program. The respondents' understanding of, curriculum for, and implementation of preceptor training differed considerably, and there were substantial differences in the content and duration of the existing preceptor-training programs. Seventy-two percent of the respondents had experienced barriers to preceptor training.

Conclusions: A standardized preceptor-training program is needed to improve the quality of preceptorship and assure that RT programs prepare graduates for 21st-century RT practice.

MeSH terms

  • Certification
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Preceptorship / organization & administration*
  • Professional Competence
  • Respiratory Therapy / education*
  • Teaching / organization & administration*
  • United States