by Kenneth Capek, MPA, RRT
Any views or opinions presented above are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the licensure board. Mr. Capek presently serves as chairman of the NJ State Licensure board.
The mission of the board is to protect the public by restricting the provision of respiratory patient care to competent individuals. This is accomplished by giving a license to practice to those individuals who have received appropriate training and passed the NBRC CRT exam. As time passes, some knowledge tends to be lost to memory and new information emerges as science progresses. In order to address these problems the board issued the requirement of continuing education for all licensees in order to maintain and document ongoing competency. The board recognizes that there are limitations on the means of assuring competence but must endeavor to provide a framework to move practitioners toward self-improvement, competence and improved quality of their patient care. That framework consists of setting requirements for the number of credits (CEU’s) needed each licensure period, in addition to the specific type of courses most relevant to current standards of professional practice.
The PBCA Process
In October 2012, the board developed additional means of enabling therapists to enhance their knowledge and practice with the goal of making this task easier and less expensive. One example of this was to expand the number of credits that could be taken through “non-traditional means” (on-line). The board also established an alternative method for demonstrating competency that provides CEU’s, called the “Performance-Based Competency Assessment” (PBCA). The main difference between a PBCA CEU and the current CEU track is that the board directly approves the PBCA program CEU’s without charge and the program is provided at the employee’s place of work. Another significant difference is that it must contain three components 1) a presentation of current information about a clinical procedure, 2) a test of the attendee’s knowledge of the procedure and 3) include the attendee’s accurate demonstration of the procedure. Therefore, the PBCA achieves the goal of being inexpensive and convenient and provides attendees with board-approved CEU’s. The PBCA may actually be a better tool to measure actual competence because a standard CEU program must provide information but may not test the individual upon completion, nor does it test ability to actually perform a procedure. A respiratory therapist may know every aspect of knowledge about performing a safe arterial puncture but how well do they actually perform the procedure. That would be important if you are on the other side of the needle. Physical competence is a component in all clinical site rotations within respiratory training programs. Quality care means not only knowing what to do but doing it well!
The NJ Board of Respiratory Care has provided respiratory care department directors with an opportunity to award CEU’s to their staff therapists at their own place of work and free of charge. So what’s the catch? The only catch is that the licensed respiratory therapist director must apply to the board for the credits to be awarded (maximum of six per licensure period) and take responsibility for the integrity of the program process. Only clinical procedures from the facilities scope of practice will be approved for these credits such as; arterial blood gas puncture, capillary sampling, arterial line insertion, intubation, chest-physiotherapy with postural drainage, etc. A performance “simulation program” of a cardiac arrest would be another excellent example. It is actually quite easy to apply and most departments are performing some version of competency testing already. So get credit for it. More details can be found at the State board web site under “respiratory care regulations” at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/respcare/res_rules.htm