Although physicians and nurses in Ghana work extremely hard to care for their patients, their workload is quite heavy. The presence of respiratory therapists as members of the health care team would not only assist in the patient workload of physicians and nurses, but it would also add a specialization that focuses on respiratory illness, diagnosis and treatment that is not currently available.
A focused effort to introduce respiratory therapy to the University of Ghana and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) began in 2012 with the assistance of a hand full of individuals who were able to arrange for meetings with the appropriate hospital and university administrators. Dr. Lisa Trujillo, Dr. Karen Schell and Dr. Paul Eberle have worked very closely with hospital and university staff and physicians to develop a respiratory therapy curriculum that would best serve Ghana. The curriculum proposal, that was approved to begin in August 2015, is heavily based on the current Weber State University (WSU) respiratory therapy curriculum.
It is anticipated that students will be directly admitted from senior high school to the 4-year program. Students will spend their first two years completing general education requirements and science courses. Year three and four will be comprised of respiratory specific curriculum, during which students will travel to WSU to participate in a concentrated laboratory/clinical experience that will provide them an opportunity to work with a variety of equipment (possibly not available in Ghana) and to spend time in clinical rotations where they can gain an understanding of the scope and breadth of respiratory care in the US.
This program is expected to be a pilot program for other institutions through out Ghana and possibly a model for the introduction of respiratory therapy in other developing nations.