The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

1998 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

FACTORS INFLUENCING ATTRITION AND RETENTION OF STUDENTS IN RESPIRATORY THERAPY PROGRAMS

by Larry Arnson, Ph.D., R.R.T. Gwinnett Technical Institution, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043

PROBLEM Far too many students fail to complete the respiratory therapy program. Attrition rates for respiratory therapy programs are higher than any other allied health program. However, a paucity of information exists on attrition and retention of students in allied health education programs, and no studies have been conducted in respiratory programs.

METHODOLOGY Using Tinto's (1975) model of student attrition, the Student Involvement Questionnaire Respiratory was sent to respiratory therapists that were enrolled in a program of study at two-year technical institutions in the spring of 1997. Two quarters later these participants were identified as persisters or nonpersisters. Supportive data were also gathered from persisters and nonpersisters of respiratory therapy programs throughout the state of Georgia from technical institutions, two-year colleges, and four-year universities. Follow-up interviews were also conducted on first-year and second-year respiratory therapy students throughout the state.

RESULTS There was no significance to the variable of academic and social integration, goal and institutional commitment, and support and encouragement of others and persistence in a respiratory therapy program. Follow-up interviews revealed a lack of perceived support from respiratory therapy program faculty and staff.

CONCLUSIONS These results may be helpful to other respiratory therapy programs and institutions of higher education concerned about attrition/retention. Further exploration in other institutions and other health programs would add to the wider body of knowledge of student persistence and withdrawal behavior.

The 44th International Respiratory Congress Abstracts-On-DiskĀ®, November 7 - 10, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia.

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