Certified Respiratory Therapists in the USA


Work force shortages in the healthcare sector may be one important factor related to adequate patient care.  The number of licensed doctors, nurses, as well respiratory therapists in a population is an important factor to determine.

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This may be a key to ensuring proper and sufficient healthcare provided to the people residing in the particular state or community.  In defining this healthcare work shortage, preliminary work must first be done to determine the baseline data.  Baseline data is basic information gathered before an actual research study begins.  It will be used to make comparisons, assessments and draw out inferences.

The importance of establishing baseline data is in the allowances for the careful planning and high quality validation of the study.

This study aims to provide baseline data on the number of licensed respiratory therapists in the USA.  Baseline data on number of Respiratory Therapists for every 10,000 population of each state was determined from interviews and surveys since a review of existing literature showed no existing information on this.  State licensing boards for each of the 52 states were located and information regarding the numbers of licensed physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists were gathered.  Licensing boards were contacted by phone, electronic mail or snail mail.

Information on the numbers of licensed physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists for some states was published on their websites.  Data from the websites were validated by other data received through electronic mail.  Population data of each of the states was based on the 2000 census from the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau.  Values for the populations were standardized by dividing them by 10,000.

These values were used as a denominator for the percentages of numbers of licensed physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists that were obtained.  Percentages of respiratory therapists for each state were obtained along with that of licensed doctors and nurses.  No statistical procedures were performed on the data obtained.

In every 10,000 population, the number of licensed respiratory therapists range from 0 (in Hawaii) to about 14 (in Kentucky).  Although District of Columbia is the second least populated state, it has the most number of both licensed nurses and doctors.  For every 10,000 Americans in District of Columbia, 317 are nurses while 145 are doctors.  11 out of every 10,000 Americans in District Columbia are licensed respiratory therapists, running second to Kentucky, which has the most number of licensed respiratory therapists for every 10,000 of its population. For every 10,000 people in California, the most populated state, only about 102 are nurses, 27 are doctors and 8 are respiratory therapists.  Hawaii, with a population more than twice that of District of Columbia, has no licensed respiratory therapists at all.

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