Ralph David Zimmerman, Jr.
End-of-life education experiences of respiratory therapists : implications for university leadership
Under the direction of Elaine Artman, Ed.D.
The study addressed the problem of the implications surrounding a lack of end-of- life education in the respiratory therapy curriculum. Respiratory Therapy programs need to integrate therapists’ lived experiences with palliative care into their educational programs in an effort to facilitate an improved level of end-of-life care and teach future therapists how to better deal with the stress associated with witnessing death in the clinical setting (Giordano, 2000).
Using the qualitative approach of interpretive phenomenological analysis, the research was conducted at a large public university. Subjects who had graduated within the past three to 5 years were recruited by email and recorded interviews were transcribed, analyzed, and coded. Superordinate, sub-superordinate, and emergent themes were defined and used to analyze the transcribed interviews.
The researcher identified three superordinate themes that addressed the research question: (a) Needs for the Patient (b) Needs for the Family (c) Needs for the Care Provider. Sub-superordinate themes included Suffering, Time, and Honesty (under needs for the patient); Support, Compassion, and Engagement (under needs for the family); Memorable Experiences, Coping, Stress, and Education (under needs for the care
Results of the study show that a lack of end-of-life education in the respiratory therapy curriculum can impact therapists, patients, and family members. Practicing respiratory therapists desire more education on how to care for dying patients in order for this impact to be lessened. Recommendations for further study include expanding the size of the study to include other regions of the country and surveying programs to ascertain the amount of end-of-life education students are receiving during their education.||