Simulation Use in Entry-into-Practice Respiratory Care Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Thematic Analysis

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Respir Care Educ Annu


Background: In March 2020, entry-into-practice respiratory care programs experienced a sudden, macro-level shift in educational delivery due to clinical exclusion of students related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) approved simulated learning activities as a temporary measure for students to complete clinical hours. The research team utilized a survey research approach to learn about simulation use between March 2020 and December 2021.

Methods: A survey instrument adapted from a study of simulation practices prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was used to capture reported simulation changes. The research team performed inductive thematic analysis to examine four open-ended survey questions from the 147 unique responses received from entry-into-practice-respiratory care program directors.

Results: Three themes were extracted from the data analysis. In the theme of simulation resources, respondents indicated they used simulation methods to teach when clinical sites were unavailable but needed more support with simulation's technical aspects. In the theme of controversy surrounding simulation, it was asserted that while simulation was a useful tool, it could not adequately replace clinical learning. In the theme of simulation evolution, an increase in the types and diversity of simulations was fostered by the pandemic to include interprofessional education.

Conclusions: Most entry-into-practice respiratory care students returned to clinical sites by December 2021. Simulation filled an important educational role during the pandemic, and although programs continue to utilize simulation activities, simulation is no longer approved as a substitute for clinical hours by CoARC.

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Not assigned.



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