Madison and Michael will both graduate from their RT programs at the end of the summer. As they take their final classes, their instructors are emphasizing the need to sit for the CRT and the RRT exams before they set out to seek employment.
Madison has taken this advice to heart and already registered for both exams.
Michael is thinking, “Gee, you don’t need the RRT to get a license to practice in my state, so why bother? Just more money out the door and extra testing stress I don’t need right now.”
A must-have in many markets
Ask RT managers across the country which new grad they’d rather hire, and most will tell you Madison has a huge leg up. While it is true you don’t have to earn the RRT to receive an RT license in most states, today’s greater competition for jobs plus the growing responsibilities expected of therapists are making it a must-have in many markets.
Gary Wickman, BA, RRT, FAARC, director of respiratory care at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, WA, believes the RRT credential should be the goal of all new therapists — and he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk too. At his hospital, the RRT is expected of every therapist in the department.
“We expect our respiratory therapists to work at the RRT level and pay them at the RRT level,” says the manager. The only way he’ll hire a new grad without the RRT is if the person signs a commitment to pass the RRT exam within six months of the date of hire.
New hires in the RT department at Samaritan Albany General Hospital in Albany, OR, have to earn the RRT credential within 18 months of hire and are paid 10% more than CRTs when they do. “People within the system have been discharged for not meeting this obligation,” says Manager of Cardiopulmonary and Neurodiagnostic Services Marilyn Barclay, RRT, CPFT, RPSGT.
They’ve been doing it that way for more than a decade now. “Around 13 years ago the HR department revised all the job codes and job descriptions, creating two separate codes and two pay rates,” she says. “That was when the RRT requirement was enacted.”
You’re trained to take it — so take it!
Other hospitals aren’t quite as far along as Wickman and Barclay’s facilities when it comes to requiring the RRT, but that’s where they’re headed. “At my hospital there is currently no distinction between the duties and responsibilities of a CRT and a RRT, except a pay difference, but with that being said I am currently working on a career ladder, and there will be a distinction between the responsibilities of a CRT and a RRT,” emphasizes Charlene Barnes, RRT, director of cardio-pulmonary services at Murray-Calloway County Hospital in Murray, KY.
She’s also working with her human resources department to implement an RRT-only policy for the department and hopes to have it in place within the next couple of years. “I believe we are all trained to take and pass the RRT and I feel like individuals who do not show a lack of ambition and seriousness for their profession,” says Barnes.
Gary Wickman goes one step further. “I think the CRT credential should be eliminated as it creates confusion in our profession and with our health care partners. It is also the recommendation from the 2015 and Beyond consensus conferences and the Strategic Plan of the AARC.”
No one knows if and/or when that will really happen or how it will impact current CRTs, but one thing is clear: the handwriting is on the wall, and it says, “Get your RRT now so you’ll be positioned for success no matter what the future holds.”