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Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of practicing respiratory therapists (RT) and respiratory care educators regarding the role of RTs serving as physician extenders. Methods: The survey instrument was an electronic questionnaire that consisted of 17 questions. Participation was voluntary and participants were selected through random and convenience sampling techniques. Results: Of 506 respondents, 234 were respiratory care educators. Overwhelmingly, the respondents held the Registered Respiratory Therapist credential (92.7%). Respondents were about equally split among three education levels: 31.7% associate degree, 31.7% bachelor’s degree, and 27.3% master’s degree. Of the respondents 62.45% had considered pursing a degree in physician assistant (PA). Respondents expressed a preference for an Advanced Practice Respiratory Therapy (APRT) program (77.9%) rather than a PA program. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents reported they felt that a master’s degree should be the minimum level of education for an APRT. Conclusions: This study suggests that practitioners and educators alike are strongly supportive of advanced practice in the profession of respiratory therapy.

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Copyright © 2015 by the American Association for Respiratory Care. This document was published with permission by the American Association for Respiratory Care. It was originally published by Respiratory Care Education Annual.