The National Network for Associate degree Respiratory Care (NN2RC) was formed in December 2010 with a goal of providing a network for any individual, student, or educational institution who is affiliated with Respiratory Therapy education at the Associate degree level.
It is the opinion of the NN2RC that the Associate degree should be maintained as the standard for entry into the field of Respiratory Care with the development of a career pathway into Baccalaureate and Master’s degree programs for advancement in the profession.
"Career Pathways" refers to a system of career development educational options that may be taken as sequential building blocks (i.e. AS, BS, MS), with each level along the pathway reflecting increased skills and associated with advanced career opportunities. Career pathways enhance the recruitment and retention of diverse students. Changing demographics effect future workforce composition along with the population being served, and career pathways offer an effective mechanism for recruiting and retaining non-traditional health care providers to meet emerging needs.
The National Network for Associate Degree Respiratory Care (NN2RC) is concerned about recent activities aimed at elevating educational requirements for entry into the practice of respiratory care from associate degree to baccalaureate degree level of education.
"Degree creep" can unnecessarily raise the cost of education, making it inaccessible for many students, while possibly contributing to the already spiraling costs of health care. Elimination of associate degree as the accepted entry into practice could significantly exacerbate healthcare workforce shortages, while reducing workforce diversity, especially in many states that do not have the option of offering a baccalaureate degree. Survey of Respiratory Therapy education program directors in the United States indicates there are only 54 total baccalaureate programs in all of the U.S. Further information from the study identified the largest barriers to accepting more students into RT programs were inadequate number of clinical affiliates, limited availability of additional faculty and lack of funding to expand. Respiratory Care; May 2012 Vol 57 No 5.
Current State and Future State of Educational Practice
Employers continue to verify that associate degree respiratory care graduates perform as effectively in entry-level clinical positions as baccalaureate graduates. “Most directors indicated that graduates met or exceeded their expectations”, Respiratory Care, May 2012 Vol 56 No12; Kacmarek et al. Because associate degree respiratory care programs and graduates contribute recognized value to healthcare, NN2RC is strongly committed to actively promoting the associate degree as entry into the field of practice. NN2RC is also strongly committed to promoting the development of career pathways and consortia type relationships among other educational institutions.