Compact Licensure for Respiratory Therapists

 Published: October 7, 2021

By: Anne Marie Hummel



It is often around the time of emergencies and natural disasters, or currently during the public health emergency, that we get questions from respiratory therapists (RTs) about why the profession does not have compact licensure. The nurses’ compact is often cited as a reason that RTs should have one as well.

We’ve heard your comments loud and clear, and for that reason the AARC has spent several months researching the issue to gain a better understanding of what is involved in the process. We first consulted with the National Council for Interstate Compacts, the agency that assists professions wishing to pursue compact licensure. We also surveyed state respiratory care boards as to their interest because the success of compact licensure lives and dies with the involvement of state officials.

A comprehensive document has been prepared that provides additional details and outlines the specific steps that must be followed to be successful. We encourage you to read it to gain a complete understanding of the issues.

Overall, it can take years for a compact to come to fruition. For example, it took over a decade for the nurses to implement their compact, which requires a minimum of ten states to become effective. Part of what’s made compact licensure so difficult and lengthy to implement is the mandate for a governance structure. An Interstate Commission must be established which provides oversight as a quasi-government agency that includes an Executive Director and staff. A comprehensive database must be created and maintained. Complicating the process for respiratory therapists is the variation in state scopes of practice, credentials for entry level licensure, and continuing education requirements.

After reviewing the information and considering activities underway to meet the objectives of the Association’s Horizon Goals, the AARC Board of Directors concluded that compact licensure is not a priority for the Association at this time. Instead, but also in alignment with the desires of its members, the AARC has prioritized the need to move the profession forward by requiring a RRT credential and a bachelor’s degree as entry level for licensure, and to develop an advanced practice respiratory therapist credential.

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Anne Marie Hummel is the AARC’s Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs where she brings her years of regulatory experience in the Federal Government to overseeing federal and state legislative and regulatory policies that impact the respiratory care profession. Check out AARC’s Advocacy menu on our website to learn more. Outside of work, Anne Marie loves interior design, tackling 1000-piece puzzles and spending time with her granddaughter.

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