RTs need to maintain active credentials with the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Many RTs have discovered that maintaining an active credential with the NBRC was required to maintain their state license or to satisfy the requirements of their jobs. Unfortunately, some of those RTs learned active credentials were required after their NBRC credential expired.
The NBRC is the national credentialing body for the respiratory care profession. Currently, the District of Columbia and every state except Alaska licenses RTs. Every jurisdiction that licenses RTs relies upon the examinations developed and administered by the NBRC to evaluate candidates for licensure.
The credentials awarded by the NBRC before July 1, 2002, do not expire and are not subject to the NBRC's Continuing Competency Program. The credentials awarded by the NBRC on or after July 1, 2002, must be renewed annually and are subject to the NBRC's Continuing Competency Program.
RTs who neglect to maintain their active credential with the NBRC may be subjected to discipline or non-renewal by their licensing boards. Some states require RTs to maintain an active credential with the NBRC in order to meet the licensure requirements. Those states may seek disciplinary action against the license of a practitioner who does not maintain active status with the NBRC. The state boards that require active status with the NBRC may also refuse to renew the licenses of RTs who have not maintained active status.
Many RTs work in hospitals and other facilities that require the RTs to be credentialed by the NBRC. Some RTs may not know that the credentials awarded by the NBRC may only be used by individuals who maintain active credentials with the NBRC. RTs who allow their credential to become inactive cannot use the expired credential to seek employment, sign charts, or apply for a license. Many employers will not allow the RT with an expired credential to work even if the RT's state license is still active. RTs may also be subjected to discipline by the NBRC for using an expired credential.
RTs renew the credentials awarded by the NBRC by submitting the annual renewal fee and proof that they work under adequate medical direction to the NBRC. RTs with credentials that expire will also need to satisfy the requirements of the NBRC Continuing Competency Program.
RTs can satisfy the Continuing Competency Program in one of three ways. First, RTs can satisfy the Continuing Competency Program by submitting proof of completing 30 hours of Category I continuing education credits to the NBRC. Second, RTs can satisfy the Continuing Competency Program by retaking and passing the credentialing examination for the highest credential held by the practitioner. Third, RTs can satisfy the Continuing Competency Program by taking and passing a credentialing examination that the practitioner has not previously passed. Usually, RTs can use the same continuing education hours to satisfy their state license requirement and the NBRC's Continuing Competency Program so option one is the most practical.
An expired NBRC credential can be reactivated within 6 months of its expiration by submitting a $250 reinstatement fee and proof of completing 30 continuing education hours to the NBRC. The continuing education hours must have been completed during the 5-year term of the credential. If more than 6 months, but less than 2 years has passed since the credential expired, the RT will need to submit a new application fee, a $150 expired-credential fee and successfully pass the credentialing examination. If more than 2 years has passed since the credential expired, the RT will need to apply as a new applicant and meet all the current requirements for credentialing. For most RTs, maintaining an active NBRC credential is the most sensible option.
RTs who fail to maintain an active NBRC credential can suffer severe consequences, including action against their license and loss of their jobs. RTs should make sure their NBRC credentials remain active so that they can continue practicing their profession.
Michael L. Smith, JD, RRT is board certified in health law by The Florida Bar and practices at The Health Law Firm in Altamonte Springs, Fla. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for formal legal advice.