Helping Ghana Patients Breathe Easier

  • Teaming Up
  • Teaming Up
  • Teaming Up

Eight weeks: That’s how long Lisa Trujillo, Weber State associate respiratory therapy professor, spent in Ghana during the summer of 2016. Working alongside colleagues at the University of Ghana, Trujillo helped get the West African nation’s first respiratory therapy bachelor’s degree program ready for its initial cohort of students.

Five years: That’s how long Trujillo has been involved in this monumental project.

A decade: That’s how long she has been serving the people of Ghana during medical missions, and how long she has been bringing students on study abroad trips to provide medical and community health education.

One second: That’s how long it takes Trujillo to smile when she talks about the eight Ghanaian students who, in the fall of 2016, began courses to become licensed respiratory therapists.

“They are so excited,” said Trujillo, who could barely contain her own excitement. “I have a video of each of them saying their name and that they’ll be studying respiratory therapy.” (Visit to watch the short video.)

The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy is the first of its kind in Ghana and throughout Africa, Trujillo said. In a country where asthma, emphysema and pulmonary disease are widespread, respiratory therapy training is badly needed.

Trujillo and Paul Eberle, respiratory therapy department chair, worked with hospital and university staff in Ghana to develop the curriculum, which is patterned after Weber State’s. Trujillo and her colleagues will continue to assist the program through mentoring and training. The partnership also will lead to additional opportunities for WSU students to learn and do research with their fellow students in Ghana.

For her work, Trujillo received the International Council for Respiratory Care’s 2016 Toshihiko Koga, MD International Medal. The honor recognizes individuals for promoting the globalization of quality respiratory care.

Respiratory Therapy Master’s Degree Starts Up

In the fall of 2016, an inaugural group of 13 students began the new Master of Science in Respiratory Therapy program at WSU. The degree will help respiratory therapists secure advanced roles in clinical practice as consultants, researchers, educators and/or team leaders and department administrators.