Marian Benjamin

Some of you have been procrastinating about taking your RRT exam (you know who you are) and now realize you missed the December 31, 2007, deadline. Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief—the NBRC, the credentialing body for respiratory care, has extended the deadline for taking the exam until February 28, 2009. Only individuals who graduated from an advanced-level respiratory therapy education program with an associate degree prior to January 1, 2005, are affected by this extension. Individuals who graduated after this date still have only 3 years from date of graduation to earn their RRT credential.

It used to be that students who graduated from a 2-year program were registry-eligible and had an indefinite time to take the registry exam. Now, they also must take the registry exam within 3 years of earning their certification, or they will have to retake the CRT exam.

Also, no longer can individuals earn an AA in another field (say business) and go through 1 year of RT training, Now the requirement is that the associate degree must be in respiratory therapy.

Some say that the RRT exam should be the only certification necessary—having to take both makes no sense. Unfortunately, state licensure boards recognize only the CRT, and, until that changes, two exams will be necessary.

Only a handful of schools provide just CRT-eligibility, however. Nearly all schools that offer an AA in respiratory care graduate students who are registry-eligible.

Editor’s Note
Read our July 2007 article “Raising the Bar for Respiratory Care.”

So, why did the NBRC adopt a 3-year limit to pass the RRT after graduating from an advanced-level program? One reason is that people forget. A CRT who has been working with adults for years most likely will not remember what care for a neonate involves. And, too, medicine is changing rapidly—with new technologies cropping up almost daily. Taking the exam within 3 years of graduation ensures that RTs who consider themselves “registry-eligible” really have the necessary knowledge and competence.

There are those who claim that being registered has no financial advantages, as many hospitals do not offer higher compensation for RRTs. This could be changing, with more and more hospitals requiring that supervisors and managers, who do receive higher compensation, are RRTs. The stakes could get even higher—many facilities are looking into requiring a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions.

The NBRC says that there will be no further extensions of the deadline; anyone who misses it will have to retake the CRT exam before being registry-eligible. So, get hopping! Don’t wait until January or February to take the exam; there are no guarantees that testing dates will be available for people who put it off. You can learn more about the RRT exam at the NBRC Web site: [removed][/removed]. Good luck!

Marian Benjamin
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