Respiratory Therapy Certification
By an allied health world contributing writer
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Are board exams required for respiratory therapists to become certified and licensed in the field?The national certification, which is required to practice, is through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). There are two levels of testing by the NBRC. The first exam that must be taken is the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). This exam must be passed in order to practice as a respiratory therapist. After this exam is successfully passed, the practitioner is eligible to take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam, which has a written portion and a clinical simulation portion. In addition to passing a national certification exam, each state also has it’s own license for respiratory care practitioners. With just a CRT a respiratory therapist is able to perform basic floor responsibilities such as ABGs, oxygen therapies and breathing treatments. But they cannot manage ventilators or other critical procedures until they pass the exam to become an RRT. Most hospitals are looking to hire RRTs.
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What are the costs associated with licensure?Licensure costs can vary by state, but many states are in the ballpark of $100 application fee and a $100 renewal fee every two years. You can become a RCP and use these initials if you are licensed in the state. Respiratory therapists can become licensed in their state whether they are a certified (CRT) or registered (RRT) respiratory therapist. Most practitioners put their highest initials behind their name followed by RCP showing they are both nationally certified and state licensed.
What do the national certification and state licensure exams entail?The national certification exam for certified respiratory therapist (CRT) includes 140 questions and several didactic questions. The national exam for the registered respiratory therapist (RRT) includes 100 questions and a clinical simulation test with ten case studies that involve the respiratory therapist making decisions for fictional patients.
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As for licensures, some states require exams and other states do not. The difficulty of licensure exams also varies across each state that mandates these.
What are the continuing education requirements?Each state’s requirements for continuing education units (CEUs) are different, however most require 24 CEUs over the course of two years to maintain a current license. These CEUs do not have to be submitted unless requested by the state. The CEUs must pertain to Respiratory Care and they must be from an approved program through the American Association of Respiratory Care or the individual state licensure board. It is the individual respiratory therapist’s responsibility to keep track of their CEUs and produce documentation of them if requested by the state.
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