The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2008 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

CORRELATES OF ATTRITION AMONG PART-TIME STUDENTS IN A RESPIRATORY CARE BACCALAUREATE PROGRAM

Michael E. Anders1, Tonya R. Cook1, Erna L. Boone1



Background: Recruitment of qualified students is a challenge for respiratory care baccalaureate educational programs. To help meet this challenge, our program implemented a track for part-time students. Part-time students can enroll in prerequisite courses as corequisites, in conjunction with respiratory care professional courses. The availability of a part-time track has contributed to an upsurge in student enrollment in our program. However, attrition among part-time students has been high. The purpose of this study was to determine correlates of attrition in part-time students in a baccalaureate respiratory care educational program.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of the admissions records of all students enrolled in our part-time track from 2005 through 2007. We elicited demographics, Health Occupation Aptitude Exam (HOAE) scores, prerequisite grade point average, science and math grade point average, English and speech grade point average, and prior completion or repeat of prerequisite courses, including anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, college algebra, speech, and English composition. Attrition was the outcome of interest. At an alpha = .05, Pearson's chi-square tested the association of categorical variables and univariate binary regression tested the association of continuous variables with attrition.

Results: Sixty-one students enrolled in the part-time track, including 49 females and 19 African-Americans, with a mean age of 28 (SD = 7). Nearly half (n = 30) attrited. Lack of prior completion of courses in microbiology (p = .002), anatomy and physiology (p = .01), physics (p = .04), and two or more of these three science courses (p = .001) were each associated with attrition. Demographics, grade point averages, HOAE scores, and completion or repeat of other prerequisite courses were not associated with attrition.

Conclusion: These results provide sufficient evidence to suggest that lack of prior completion of courses in microbiology, anatomy and physiology, physics, or two or more of these three science courses are each associated with attrition in part-time students. Based on these results, our program amended our admission criteria for the part-time track. A part-time track can increase student enrollment in a baccalaureate respiratory care educational program; however, to minimize attrition, completion of some science courses as prerequisites, rather than corequisites, appears to be important.