Committees  |   January 2013
2015 and Beyond: What’s the Next Step for Respiratory Therapy?
Author Affiliations
  • Allen N. Gustin, Jr., M.D., F.C.C.P.
    Committee on Respiratory Therapy
Article Information
Airway Management / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Critical Care / Education / CPD / Palliative Care / End-of-Life Care / Pediatric Anesthesia / Radiological and Other Imaging / Respiratory System / Technology / Equipment / Monitoring / Quality Improvement / Committees
Committees   |   January 2013
2015 and Beyond: What’s the Next Step for Respiratory Therapy?
ASA Monitor 01 2013, Vol.77, 30-31.
ASA Monitor 01 2013, Vol.77, 30-31.
More than 60 years ago, oxygen technicians (as they were termed at that time) were primarily responsible for administering oxygen to patients via nasal cannula or oxygen tents.1  The oxygen therapist subsequently evolved into what we now call the respiratory therapist (RT). RTs now provide care to tens of millions of patients with pulmonary issues throughout the world and are now present in many areas of the health care system.2  Respiratory therapy has grown from on-the-job training to a fully credentialed profession. The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care oversees approximately 386 accredited respiratory therapy programs in the United States where the majority of training programs offer an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy to graduates (few offer baccalaureate degrees and fewer offer a master’s degree).3  When an RT student completes an accredited program, the graduate must pass a competency exam for entry into the profession. Two exams exist: the Certified Respiratory Therapy Exam (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapy Exam (RRT). As accreditation of each program is tied to the success rate for graduates passing these exams, graduates are expected to pass the CRT exam (required for licensure in most states). The RRT exam is considered advanced practice and is not routinely required for employment or licensure. Accordingly, the RRT is not universally taken by graduates. The National Board for Respiratory Care is responsible for the CRT/RRT exams as well as other specialty exams: Adult Critical Care Specialty Examination (introduced in 2012), the Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist, and the Sleep Disorders Testing and Therapeutic Intervention Respiratory Care Specialist.4 
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