The National Board for Respiratory Care offers specialty credentials in adult acute care (the ACCS), neonatal-pediatrics (the NPS), sleep (the SDS), and respiratory diagnostics (the CPFT and RPFT). Thousands of RTs have earned these credentials, sometimes because their jobs require them, and sometimes simply in the hopes that they will increase their chances for success in the future.
But do these credentials pay off in terms of opening new doors for RTs? We asked members of the AARC Specialty Sections to weigh in. Here are some excerpts from their replies —
I became a pediatric specialist in 1991 at a 1,800-bed acute care hospital with a Level 3 NICU and PICU, and Level 1 Trauma Center. The credentials gave me an edge when interviewing for all of my jobs over the years. It wasn’t just having pediatric experience. Holding that credential confirms that you are well versed in that area of respiratory care. — Jennifer J. Whitehead, BSRT, RRT, RRT-NPS, RPsgT, director of respiratory care, Exceptional Care for Children, Newark, DE
I earned the CPFT and RPFT as a requirement to work in the IU Health PFT labs. Our institution requires each PFT staff therapist to earn the RPFT within two years of the hire date. In my case, the RPFT made me seriously study why and how we do things. I believe it made me a more thoughtful and precise therapist. That confidence made me feel like I could mentor other younger therapists who want to do PFTs as their career path. I felt more prepared to be a supervisor after earning my credentials in my specialty. — Cheryl Peglow, RRT, RPFT, supervisor, pulmonary function lab, IU Health Methodist and University Hospitals, Indianapolis, IN
By earning my advanced credentials, I have moved into a leadership role and built relationships with providers that promote autonomy. Showing your interest in developing yourself is especially necessary for the medical field, as medicine is ever-evolving. — Sarah Bazelak, BSRT, RRT, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, education and quality coordinator, Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, WI
I pursued my NPS years ago when I was an RT supervisor, and I was trying to get respiratory therapists into our hospital’s 50-bed Level 3 NICU. It was tremendously helpful in convincing the physicians and nurses that respiratory therapy was an invaluable member of the interdisciplinary team. — Jodi Jaeger, BS, RRT, RRT-NPS, manager, respiratory care services and volunteer services, Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, Milwaukee, WI
My RPFT helped me secure my position as a manager. It was recommended by my medical director. I am the go-to for any technical questions regarding testing, which helps secure my position. I also encourage my staff to get their credentials upon hire — the NPS or CPFT/RPFT. — Aracely Bigelow, BS, RRT, RPFT, pulmonary function lab manager, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX
Since obtaining the RRT-ACCS credential, I’ve held several leadership roles. The credential has played an important role in my success. Most recently, I was offered (and accepted) the role of director, respiratory care, at the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center-Florence in Florence, SC. There I will help to continue a well-established tradition of advanced clinical practice with a group of RTs that are already practicing at a very high level. — Steven Bouffard, MBA, RRT, RRT-ACCS, CPHQ, manager, respiratory care and transport services, Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Greenfield, MA
I find that taking specialty exams is a great way to motivate yourself to keep learning and also a great way to show others that you hold yourself accountable for the knowledge needed in the specialty in which you practice. They are also a great way to promote yourself to potential employers, climb a career ladder, and help elevate our profession by showing other clinical staff we take pride in what we do. Obtaining these specialty credentials and some others from different organizations such as the NCC and the NAECB has helped me reach my ultimate goal of being on a neonatal/pediatric transport team. — Christopher Casteel, RRT, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, C-NPT, C-ELBW, C-NNIC, critical care neonatal/pediatric transport team therapist, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Norfolk, VA
With earning any credential, it makes the individual more valuable as a team member of an organization. In receiving the RPFT credential, it showed my dedication to the specialty field and my knowledge as a skilled clinician. The credential was also instrumental when seeking advancement to my current role as manager. — Dino Gaetani, RRT, RPFT, manager, pulmonary diagnostic services, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
Visit the NBRC website to learn more about specialty credentials available from the National Board for Respiratory Care.