Interprofessional Education Improves Students' Skills of Respiratory Therapy Profession

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A study found the use of interprofessional education improves students' knowledge and skill sets and promotes collaborative behaviors.

Interprofessional education (IPE) may improve nursing and occupational therapy students’ knowledge and skill sets of the respiratory therapy (RT) profession, according to research.

A study, published by the Respiratory Care Journal, aimed to assess the use of IPE to improve the knowledge and skill levels of nursing and occupational therapy students, specifically involving RT medical devices and techniques, nursing, and safe patient transfers. The study also aimed to promote collaborative behaviors.

“Interprofessional education (IPE) is a developing evidence-based approach commonly used in academic institutions to prepare students to work in teams with the goal of improving quality of care and health outcomes,” researchers wrote. “IPE is defined as when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other.”

Researchers collected data from an IPE high-fidelity simulation experience including 73 nursing, occupational therapy, and RT students at a medical academic institution. The IPE experience that was analyzed was guided by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative roles and responsibilities and interprofessional communication subcompetency.


The students participated in a 44-question presurvey that included 5 demographic questions, 33 knowledge-based questions written specific to each profession that included all of the components addressed in competencies, and 6 questions related to IPE learning experiences.

Following the survey, the students participated in 3 high-fidelity simulated patient cases in a laboratory setting. Then, participants took a postsurvey including 39 of the presurvey questions, 3 IPE evaluation questions, and 2 additional open-ended questions.

The results of the study revealed that significant increases in student perception of learning differed by profession. Approximately 98% of those who participated agreed or strongly agreed that this IPE experience increased their knowledge of the procedures performed by a nurse, respiratory therapist, and/or occupational therapist. In the future, the students in the study were more likely to collaborate with these professions (97%).

“It is promising to see an increase in nursing and occupational therapy student knowledge about the RT profession,” the study concluded. “Increased knowledge about professional roles has the potential to positively impact patient outcomes.”

The participants were offered the opportunity to provide suggestions for improving the IPE experience and most who answered said they either needed extra time or requested the time in a scenario be made more efficient. Other suggestions included adding a scenario with an actual patient or completing the experience earlier in the curriculum.

Despite the promising results of the study, the researchers called for further research to measure the postgraduation collaborative behaviors and its impact on patient health outcomes.


Zamjahn JB, Beyer EO, Alig KL, Mercante DE, Carter KL, Gunaldo TP. Increasing awareness of the roles, knowledge, and skills of respiratory therapists through an interprofessional education experience. Respir Care. 2018;63(5):510-518. doi: 10.4187/respcare.05869.