Learning within the confines of a continuing professional education activity: Perspectives from respiratory therapists




Wittnebel, Leonard D.

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Continuing professional education (CPE) for respiratory therapists (RTs) represent both a mandate and a desired characteristic of a profession poised to assume a more prominent role in the healthcare landscape. While it is acknowledged that education beyond the professional degree and a lifetime approach to learning is inherent due to the nature of the rapid and progressive changes in the approach to healthcare, current approaches to CPE are deficient in several respects. The mandate and dominant method of CPE delivery in the health professions is in opposition to proven adult educational approaches and is arguably driven by financial motivations and existing structures of power regimes, creating a climate where compliance is necessary to prevent punitive recourse, absent educational accountability. This research was an interdisciplinary attempt to evaluate how RTs utilize large CPE conferences in their current incarnations to inform their learning and clinical practice.

Findings identified that participants utilized the conference in accordance with degrees of overlap relating to their perceived learning needs as they compared to mandated learning-representative of clock-hours spent in attendance. The most prominent means of knowledge acquisition was perceived to be established through socially-mediated interactions conducted within the confines of the CPE activity, but outside the guidelines of what is deemed acceptable CPE credit. This represents a misalignment between teachers and learners, as well as a barrier to change due to fiscal constraints and traditional approaches. Further research is needed to reconcile this discrepancy to maximize the efficacy of CPE for RTs.


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Adult learning, Continuing Professional Education, Health Professions, power relations, Professional Development, Respiratory Care



Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching