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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 280-288

Exploring the critical thinking skills of respiratory care students and faculty

1 Department of Respiratory Therapy, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences; King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, Al Ahsa, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, United States

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Bshayer Ramadan Alhamad
College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, P. O. Box 2477, Al Ahsa 31982
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijrc.ijrc_88_21

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Background: Critical thinking is an essential skill for respiratory therapists to provide competent patient care. However, limited evidence of respiratory care students' critical thinking levels and no empirical evidence assessing that of respiratory care faculty exists. This study aims to assess the overall critical thinking levels of respiratory care students and faculty, determine whether faculty have stronger overall critical thinking skills than students, and investigate students' and faculty's perceptions regarding what critical thinking is and how it develops. Methods: An E-mail invitation was sent to all accredited US respiratory care education program directors asking for their participation and forwarding the solicitation letter to students and faculty. Participants completed a two-section online survey first requesting demographic information and presenting three open-ended questions and then providing the health sciences reasoning test (HSRT) to assess participants' critical thinking. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and one-tailed independent t-test (P < 0.05); content analysis was used for qualitative data. IRB approval was obtained. Results: Twenty-two students (12 females and in associate degree programs) and 20 faculty (13 females, 9 with a master's) completed the HSRT. Students demonstrated moderate overall critical thinking ability (17.81 ± 4.19), whereas faculty had a statistically stronger level (21.65 ± 5.41) than students (P = 0.007). Qualitative data demonstrated participants' use of themes (e.g., problem-solving) identified in the literature to define critical thinking, reported faculty role (e.g., mentor) in promoting students' critical thinking, and presented educational strategies (e.g., case studies) for fostering students' critical thinking. Conclusions: This study found faculty displayed stronger overall critical thinking skills than students. It is imperative for respiratory care programs and faculty to develop further students' critical thinking levels from moderate to advanced, as recommended for the competencies specified in the American Association for Respiratory Care 2015 and Beyond report.

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