The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) has published a scope of practice for advanced practice respiratory therapists (APRT).[1]

According to the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (COARC), the APRT is “a credentialed, licensed respiratory care practitioner trained to provide a scope of practice that exceeds that of the RRT.”[2]

The AARC’s new board-approved document outlines that scope of practice and further defines the position as providing pulmonary care/diagnosis under the supervision and responsibility of a licensed MD or DO.[1]

The full document is available at the AARC website.

The majority of the responsibilities are ones that respiratory therapists are likely familiar with; however, according to the document, APRTs may prescribe/order/administer cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary drugs and medical equipment (in accordance with state licensing laws).[1]

Given that, the position is imbued with greater authority and autonomy than a traditional RRT role, analogous to a nurse practitioner compared to a registered nurse. Ultimately, the document says, the scope of practice is determined by the APRT and the supervising physician, who is responsible for the performance of the APRT.[1]

The scope of practice document was the work of the association’s Committee on Advanced RT Practices, Credentialing, and Education and was recently ratified by the AARC board of directors.

In its announcement of the new document, the AARC noted the confluence of industry challenges that compelled it to develop the APRT position, such as the predicted shortage of cardiologists and pulmonologists, the mortality and disease burden of cardiorespiratory disorders, and an aging US population.[3]


  1. American Association for Respiratory Care. (2020, Jan 31.) The Advanced Practice Respiratory Therapist’s Scope of Practice.
  2. Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. (2018, Jan 1.) Standards for Accreditation of Advanced Practice Programs in Respiratory Care.
  3. American Association for Respiratory Care. (2020, Jan 31.) AARC Board of Directors Announcement: Advance Practice Respiratory Therapist Scope of Practice.