by William H. Oliver, Jr., BS, RRT-NPS, CPFT
Imagine after working many years as a CRT, you take the plunge (finally!) and attempt to register for the Written Registry exam. How about as an RRT, you wanted to attempt a Specialty examination to further your resume and, in both cases, only to be told you were ineligible! Not only ineligible, but you were not really an “active” CRT or an RRT!!! Hmmm…
“Whoa!” you say, “How could that be? I passed the Cert. (or Registry) Exam back in ’95!…..and I have my Certificate and a valid NJ License to prove it!”
“Oh yeah? Well guess what? According to the National Board for Respiratory Care, your membership has lapsed and your active status expired years ago.”
“Membership?” you say, “Membership, what membership!?”
Any of this sound familiar? Many, if not most, currently employed Therapists are probably not keenly aware of the fact that the NBRC has federally protected registered trademark rights to the Certified (CRT) and Registered (RRT) Therapist credential (Specialty Cred.’s too!). What this means is one must be an ACTIVE, dues paying member of the NBRC to display or use their credential. To represent yourself otherwise, consider this NBRC statement:
“…. any use of this credential designation, whether using it to sign a patient chart or medical document , applying for a State license as an individual holding the credential, or seeking employment as a therapist with the credential violates the NBRC’s Judicial and Ethics Policies can result in disciplinary action by the Board.”
It should be noted that the NJ Board for Respiratory Care does not specifically require NBRC membership or active status as part of the licensure process, through automatic 1 year membership is conferred with successful completion of any NBRC exam. Some health care organizations have adopted policies that do require active and ongoing NBRC membership to obtain or maintain their employment status (a curious practice to this writer).
You may be also interested to know that in addition to the above discussion points, there is yet another NBRC requirement regarding the timing between the successful completion of the entry level exam (CRT) and completing the advanced level exam (RRT) – this action must be completed within 3 years of obtaining your CRT. Moreover, there are also Continuing Education requirements which must be met in order to preserve your rights to the credential and are reviewable every five years, but it is good to know that renewal of your NJ License covers this requirement in that these CEU’s can be the very same ones attested to in renewing your biennial NJ license.
By now, you may have noticed the repeated use of the word “requirement.” I must admit I was not fully or truly aware of all of these NBRC requirements. Fortunately for me, I’m one those “old hands” whose credentials were earned before those requirements went into effect. Moreover, I coincidentally maintained my NBRC membership because I support and applaud their mission, so I now feel obligated to inform you of those requirements:
“In 2003, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), and the NBRC recognized the RRT credential as the ‘standard of excellence’ for respiratory care professionals. At the request of the AARC and CoARC, NBRC approved a policy on Jan. 1, 2005 that requires graduates of advanced-level programs to complete the CRT and RRT Examinations within three years of graduation. The original policy also required advanced-level graduates with an associate degree who had already earned the CRT credential to complete the RRT by December 31, 2007.”
Do yourself a favor, go to www.NBRC.org for more complete details (including timeline history, deadlines for application, etc.).
This topic was one of the items discussed at the last session of the NJSRC’s Southern Region Area Managers held in late May at the new Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, NJ. During that discussion, and of the 10 of 40 invited, there appeared to be not only differing opinions and interpretations by the managers present, but moreover, some managers were totally unaware of the NBRC’s rules regarding this matter. One of the Managers present stated that her institution has required ongoing NBRC membership as a condition of employment for quite some time now. An e-mail poll undertaken by this writer of South Jersey Area Managers found an overwhelming majority of hospital Respiratory Care Departments do not have this requirement (though most encourage membership). This led to further discussion about how little attention we sometimes pay to actions affecting us on a national level that could have very significant impacts on our very own professional standing, our livelihood! By not taking an active role in your profession, you allow others (meaning those outside the profession) to speak for you by default. Membership in the NBRC gives you a voice in the future of the professional credential you earned. Your membership dues help support and validate your credential on an ongoing basis, even creating subspecialties to further document our contributions to the healthcare community. Membership in the AARC (and, therefore, the NJSRC) keeps you informed not only in clinical matters, but in legislative, regulatory, economic, and social matters affecting our profession as well.
So, in the end, don’t sit on the sidelines! Don’t be caught unaware! The few bucks it takes to maintain those memberships pale in comparison to the diminishment or, worse, the loss of your job!
Are you now asking yourself, “WHAT AM I, REALLY?” Don’t live or work in doubt, be sure of who or what you are, support your chosen profession by taking “active” membership in both the NBRC and the AARC!