Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education


Department of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Jaime Macias

Second Advisor

Dr. Bethany Peters

Third Advisor

Dr. John W. Harper


Background: Organizational structure and culture have been explored extensively in higher education. Nonacademic factors influence student engagement, motivation, and success. Research describing socio-academic culture in health professions programs is limited. Achievement of fundamental social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies empowers students to learn and achieve educational goals. SEL has not been established as a theoretical framework in health professions education. SEL competencies closely align with respiratory therapy (RT) learner needs and essential professional skills. Attributes of socio-academic culture in successful RT programs and their impact on student success are unknown. Objective: To identify the attributes of socio-academic culture in successful entry-to-practice respiratory therapy programs as perceived by faculty. Methods: A qualitative, multiple-case inquiry of successful entry-to-practice RT programs was undertaken. Program data was obtained from public sources. Full-time faculty members were interviewed. Content saturation was assessed across all cases. Transcripts were coded into individual characteristics and major socio-academic attributes. Results: Nineteen distinct characteristics and eight defining attributes were identified. Successful programs were perceived to build community, create supportive environments, establish expectations of excellence, cultivate professionalism, ensure meaningful clinical experiences, emphasize reflection, promote critical thinking, and pursue continuous improvement. Conclusions: Attributes of socio-academic culture in successful RT programs align with essential RT professional competencies. The defining themes support SEL as a viable framework for helping students develop the professional characteristics desired of respiratory therapists.