Sputum Bowl FAQs

AARC Sputum Bowl FAQs
AARC Sputum Bowl competition.

What is the composition of the Sputum Bowl?

The national contest is an event that student teams can compete in. The student division started in 2004. Only 4 teams per division may represent any given affiliate per division. (Example: 4 teams may represent California in the Student bowl — 1 affiliate supported and 3 renegade).

How can I obtain a set of National Sputum Bowl contest rules?

Rules are posted on this website location. Or, in case your state runs the contest in a different manner, contact your state president and/or your state Sputum Bowl coordinator. Every state runs the contest a little differently. The state contest does not need to be a copy of the national contest. Once you have become the team that will represent your state at the nationals, the state Sputum Bowl coordinator should provide you with the national rules.

Problems obtaining the national rules? Contact Sputum Bowl Chair Tom Lamphere or Pam Russell at (972) 243-2272. If you need national deadlines, question requirements, rules, etc., please email Tom Lamphere, the chair of the National Sputum Bowl Committee.

How is a Sputum Bowl team comprised?

Everyone on your team must be a student. A student is defined as any person who is enrolled in an AMA approved-CoARC accredited program. You are classified as a student from the day you enter the Respiratory Care program until the end of the calendar year of the year you graduate. So, if you graduate in May of 2018, you are a student until Dec. 31, 2018. If you become an RRT in the meantime, Congratulations! You are still a student. Any 2-4 students can make up a team. All contestants must also be AARC members.

If you have been certified by the NBRC for the past 20 years … and now you are back in school to become a graduate therapist, are you a student or a CRT?

You are a student and a CRT.

At the state level, how do I participate in the contest?

Contact the President of your state society. The President will tell you who is running your state’s contest. Contact that person. If no one is running the state contest, you can volunteer.

How does the AARC communicate with the state Sputum Bowl teams?

About three months after a national contest, the updated directions and suggestions for “How to run a state Sputum Bowl,” are sent to one of the following persons in each state: 1) the state president or 2) the person that the AARC has been told is running the Sputum Bowl for that state. Contact person 1 or 2.

If you are a state Sputum Bowl coordinator in distress, is there anyone you can email at the national level?

Yes. Tom Lamphere for national concerns: executivedirector@psrc.net.

Is your state obligated to provide you with a state Sputum Bowl contest?


We want to have a state contest. Where can Sputum Bowl equipment be purchased?

There are several good companies (see below for three). The AARC does not endorse these companies. No one involved in the Sputum Bowl has a financial stake in these companies.

  1. eNasco has been in business since the mid 1940’s. They sell many types of education and classroom equipment. Among this equipment are the following:
    • Plunger-type buzzer systems (wired and wireless): $400–$700
    • Scoreboards (wired and wireless): $422.75–$995.00
    • Timers: approximately $75–$454

    Go to enasco.com, and in the keyword search, enter the word “scoreboard” or “timer”, or contact by phone at 1 (800) 558-9595.

  2. Amazon
    • Buzzer system: $175–$260

    Go to amazon.com and search for buzzer system in the search field.

  3. buzzersystems.com
    • Go to buzzersystems.com. Type in competition buzzer system. The price range is $199–$450.

Can members of the team be from more than one program, i.e., the Minneapolis Respiratory Care Program and the St. Paul Respiratory Care Program?

Yes — Student teams can even be from different states.

Do Sputum Bowl team members get free AARC Congress registration?

As part of your participation in the Sputum Bowl, each team member will receive a free student-level AARC Congress registration. However, a student-level registration does not allow you to earn CRCE.

How do I enroll a team to compete in the National Sputum Bowl and what fees must I pay?

As a student who would like to compete in the Sputum Bowl and attend the meeting, you must pay the application fee for the Sputum Bowl because you will receive free student-level registration for the convention.

The team registration fee will be $75. The registration fee is to ensure competing teams show up to the meeting.

Can we just show up at the national Sputum Bowl and enter?

No. The following requirements must all be met in order to compete in the Sputum Bowl:

  • All team members must be AARC members
  • The AARC must receive your application complete with the application fee
  • Visual question submission
  • Team roster submission
  • Team roster revision submission, if necessary

For additional help with submitting an application fee, contact Pam Russell at (972) 243-2272.

Does the AARC pay the Congress expenses for the Sputum Bowl teams?


Is there someone I can contact at the AARC to complain about the way the National Sputum Bowl is handled?

If you want to express your concerns, comments and ideas, email Chair Tom Lamphere or Pam Russell. Some of the best changes over the years started at the state level. The National Committee has long believed that the Sputum Bowl is a game. Sputum Bowl is your chance to learn something about respiratory care and yourself. There are no losers.

How many visual questions do we have to send in?

Visual — 10.

Does a bank of questions exist that you can obtain on short notice to use at your state’s Sputum Bowl?

No. The AARC national committee will NOT provide you with emergency questions. However, you are encouraged to network with other state societies for respiratory care. So, if you are in Texas, and you need questions in a hurry, try Google. Locate information about the Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care. Call that state’s President. Ask who the Sputum Bowl coordinator is. Call the coordinator and ask if he/she is willing to help you out. If Pennsylvania won’t help you, maybe Utah or New York will.

How is the team that represents a state chosen to be the representative team of that state at the national AARC Congress?

The AARC National Sputum Bowl Committee does not involve itself in this state decision. Most states have a Sputum Bowl contest at their state convention. The winner of the state contest goes to the nationals. Some states have large contests due to a long tradition of state Sputum Bowl contests. Other states have a smaller amount of interest and will gladly approve a team of respiratory therapists who wish to enter the nationals. Call your state’s president. However, the state can appoint a team, raffle-off the honor, sell the “right to represent,” arm wrestle, flip a coin, play poker, or use any means that the affiliate state wishes to arrive at the decision of who the state Sputum Bowl team will be. The state president can simply appoint a team. Often, a state champion team will not be able to go the national contest because of work/time conflicts. The state can be represented by any two to four AARC members willing to represent that state who will be attending the Congress.

Can I live and work in one state and represent another state at the National Sputum Bowl?

The national committee does not address this issue. This is a state issue. It would be up to the state to make this decision. There is no rule. Certain Respiratory Therapists live in an area that is close to a state border. You can live in Covington, Kentucky and practice in Cincinnati, Ohio, or live in Kansas City, Missouri, and walk across certain streets to your job in Kansas City, Kansas. (The only requirement is that the team from each state that comes to the national contest be made up of AARC members.)

Does the individual state help with the costs associated with being in the national contest?

Varies by state from some help to none. Contact the state Sputum Bowl chair for more information about this.

Still have questions?

Contact Pam Russell at (972) 243-2272.

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