Respiratory Therapists (RTs) are integral members of multidisciplinary health care teams and work predominantly in intensive care units (ICUs) to care for critically ill patients. Despite being an established profession in the United States, the growth of the profession globally has been subdued, especially in Asia where there are limited RT training programs. Without a formal RT training program in Singapore, the local RT workforce is heavily dependent on foreign RTs. This study was performed to examine the contextual background of the RT profession through the unique perspectives of the RTs on their experiences and perceptions to assess the current needs for professional growth and to examine the Awareness of a need for change of the RT supply through the Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Abilities, and Reinforcement (ADKAR) Model in Singapore.
A qualitative case study approach with semi-structured interviews was conducted using an interview guide over a video-conferencing platform for 15 RTs who are currently working in Singapore.
This study has identified major challenges for the profession, which include: (a) an unsustainable manpower supply, (b) an inadequate awareness and recognition of the procession, (c) an unregulated profession, and (d) antagonistic strategies threatening the future of the profession.
Challenges notwithstanding, most participants in this study remain optimistic since the identified challenges can also be regarded as opportunities for the development and growth of the profession through the continued use of the ADKAR model to inform policymaking in Singapore.