Date of Award

Spring 4-14-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Respiratory Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Arzu Ari

Second Advisor

Robert Murray

Third Advisor

Ralph Zimmerman


BACKGROUND: Clinical facilities are essential components not only for health care delivery systems but also for health care education programs. The clinical learning environment is important in training the future workforce in healthcare. Respiratory therapy education programs face several issues with the need to prepare a proper learning environment in different clinical settings. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of respiratory therapy students on the learning environment of clinical facilities affiliated with a respiratory therapy program at an urban state university. METHODS: This study used an exploratory research design to evaluate the essential aspects of a clinical learning environment in respiratory therapy education. A self-reporting survey was utilized to gather data from 34 respiratory therapy students regarding their perception about the effectiveness of clinical facilities in respiratory therapy education. The researcher utilized The Clinical Learning Environment, Supervision and Nurse Teacher (CLES+T) evaluation scale that was developed by Sarrikoski et al. (2008). The CLES+T evaluation scale was adapted and modified after a written agreement from the author. The survey included three main domains, which are the clinical learning environment (18 items), the supervision relationship (15 items), and the role of clinical instructors (9 items). Thirty-two students participated in the survey with a response rate of 94.1%. RESULTS: Responses included two groups of students: the second year undergraduate (68.8%) and graduate students (31.3%), with 75% being female participants. The results obtained from the study indicated that both graduate and undergraduate respiratory therapy students gave high mean scores to the learning environment of the clinical facilities, supervisory relationship and the roles of clinical instructors. A statistically significant data was obtained pertaining to the difference of perceptions regarding the multi-dimensional learning between the graduate and undergraduate students. The graduate students evaluated that “the learning situation are multi-dimensional” more than the undergraduate students (p = 0.03). Findings of this study showed that female students had higher ratings than male students in all evaluations of clinical facilities. However, only one dimension of leadership style stating that “the effort of individual employees was appreciated” was statistically significant (p=0.03). The results stating, the presence of a significant percentage of the students with lack of successful private supervision and high percentage of failed supervisory relationship, are in contrast with the fact that clinical learning plays a vital role in the respiratory therapy education. It is also contrasting that majority of the students experienced team supervision, which is against the philosophy and principles of individualization. CONCLUSION: Since respiratory therapy is a practice-based profession, it is essential to integrate clinical education to respiratory care education. Gender and education level may impact students’ perceptions about the learning environment of clinical facilities. This study provides information about areas for improvement in clinical facilities affiliated with a respiratory care education program at an urban university.