2002 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
PERCEPTIONS OF RESPIRATORY CARE STUDENTS AND PROGRAM DIRECTORS ABOUT THE CHOICE OF RESPIRATORY CARE AS A PROFESSION.
Terry S. LeGrand, PhD, RRT and David C. Shelledy, PhD, RRT, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, TX.
Background: There is a growing need for respiratory therapists, but there is a decline in enrollment in respiratory therapy education programs. Learning why our students chose the profession may enable us to use the information to attract future students.
Objective: To compare reasons cited by students and those cited by respiratory care educators about choice of respiratory care as a career.
Methods: A survey was administered to four classes of students (n=64) of our baccalaureate respiratory care program. Students were asked to list reasons for choosing respiratory care. To determine how well these reasons compare with reasons cited by program directors, the results were compared with a previous survey of respiratory care program directors (n=374). Participants in the program director surveys were asked to list common reasons students give for choosing to enter respiratory care programs.
Results: Of the reasons cited, three were listed by both students and program directors: (1) a desire to help others; (2) family, friend, or self has respiratory problems; and (3) employment opportunities. Focusing on the opportunity to help others when designing recruitment media, displaying advertisements about education opportunities where those with respiratory illnesses may see them, and emphasizing the growing need for therapists may attract future applicants to our programs. The reasons students gave that program directors did not mention (a desire to work in health care, stepping stone to other professions) reveal ideas and opportunities for recruitment activities, as well as letting us know what strategies are less effective.
Conclusions: Recruitment strategies should emphasize the opportunity to help others in a health care profession that offers excellent employment opportunities. Recruitment presentations can target those who know someone with respiratory disease, as well as provide information about respiratory care as a step toward related health professions.