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How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Massachusetts

As of May 2013, respiratory therapists in Massachusetts enjoyed the fifth-highest average salary of any state in the nation. That year, the 2350 respiratory therapists licensed in Massachusetts earned an average annual salary of $67,620, which is about $10,000 more per year than the national average.

Becoming a respiratory therapist in Massachusetts requires you to graduate from an accredited degree program recognized by The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). In 2013, three of Massachusetts’ accredited RT programs produced graduating classes with a 100 percent success rate on the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credentialing exam.

If you are interested in becoming a respiratory therapist in Massachusetts, follow these steps:

Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program
Consider Applying for a Limited Permit in Respiratory Care
Pass Your NBRC CRT and RRT Exams
Apply for Your Massachusetts Respiratory Therapist’s License
Maintain Your Massachusetts Respiratory Therapist’s License

 


 

Step 1. Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program

The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) accredits seven respiratory therapy programs in Massachusetts. All of these programs are associate degree programs at the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) level (one step up from an entry level Certified Respiratory Therapist, or CRT, which is the level necessary for licensure in Massachusetts).

You must fulfill several prerequisite courses prior to being accepted into a respiratory therapy degree program in Massachusetts. While these tend to vary from one institution to the next, generally they include:

  • College algebra
  • Anatomy and physiology with lab
  • College writing
  • Microbiology

Courses that you can expect to take in a respiratory therapy degree program in Massachusetts may include, but are not limited to:

  • Principles of Respiratory Therapy
  • Modalities of Respiratory Therapy
  • Inorganic Chemistry and Lab
  • Cardiopulmonary Diseases
  • Principles of Psychology
  • Clinical Practice

Your clinical practice courses will involve working in a practical situation, usually during the second year of your degree program. You will be placed into a medical center or hospital setting and hone your skills and capabilities while assisting licensed respiratory therapists.

Practices that you may participate in during your clinical practice include:

  • Education of patient and families about lung conditions
  • Postural drainage, breathing exercises, bronchopulmonary hygiene, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Mechanical ventilator management
  • Artificial airway management
  • Interpret and report tests that diagnose breathing and lung disorders
  • Recommend treatment methods for these disorders
  • Administer aerosol therapy and humidification
  • Administer oxygen and other medical gases

 


 

Step 2. Consider Applying for Your Limited Permit in Respiratory Care in Massachusetts

Although not a prerequisite for licensure in Massachusetts, you might want to consider applying for your Limited Permit in Respiratory Care. The Limited Permit allows you to work in respiratory care in the state while you are still a student in your degree program. Under a Limited Permit, you are only allowed to perform the duties that you have performed during your studies and clinical practice. Limited Permits are valid for one year and are not renewable.

If you are interested, complete this Application for Respiratory Care Limited Permit. Be sure to include the following:

  • Attach a 2” x 2” passport style color photo of yourself
  • Sign the application in the presence of a Notary Public
  • Have transcripts sent directly from your school(s) to the Board in a signed, sealed envelope
  • Complete the Verification of Education form (included in application packet) authorizing your school to release information to the Board
  • Submit the Criminal Offender Record Information Request Form (CORI)
  • Submit check or money order for $150 payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Mail everything to Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Health, Division of Health Professions Licensure, Board of Respiratory Care, 239 Causeway St, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114.

 


 

Step 3. Pass Your NBRC Examinations

Under the rules of the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Board of Respiratory Care, you must pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination to earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

This three-hour long exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions (140 of which are scored). Study materials for the CRT may be found at the NBRC website. You must be at least 18 years old and a graduate of an accredited associate degree program in respiratory care (or currently enrolled in a bachelor degree program in respiratory care) to take this exam.

You can go on to test for the advanced Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential, which requires you to pass the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE) in addition to the multiple choice exam.The Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE) is comprised of 22 different patient management situations (20 or which are scored) presented in simulated environments.

Although the multiple choice exam is the same for both credentials, you must achieve a higher score on the multiple choice exam to qualify for the RRT credential.

Both tests are offered at exam sites located in Framingham, Cambridge, Saugus, and Holyoke.

 


 

Step 4. Apply for Your Massachusetts Respiratory Therapist’s License

Once you have completed the educational and examination requirements above, you are ready to apply for your respiratory therapist license in Massachusetts. Use the Application for Respiratory Therapist. Be sure to include:

  • Attach a 2” x 2” passport style color photo of yourself
  • Sign the application in the presence of a Notary Public
  • Have transcripts sent directly from your school(s) to the Board in a signed, sealed envelope
  • Submit the Criminal Offender Record Information Request Form (CORI)
  • Have the NBRC send verification of your certification directly to the Board showing that you have at least passed the CRT exam
  • If you have ever been licensed in another state, have that state’s licensure board send verification directly to the Board
  • If you have ever been licensed in another state, request and submit a National Practitioner Data Bank-Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank Self-Query. Contact the National Practitioner Data Bank at 1-800-767-6732 or at www.npdb-hipdb.com. When you receive the report, include the original report with your application for licensure, keeping a copy of it for your own records.
  • Submit a check or money order for $260 payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Mail everything to Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Health, Division of Health Professions Licensure, Board of Respiratory Care, 239 Causeway St, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114

 


 

Step 5. Maintain Your Massachusetts Respiratory Therapist’s License

Congratulations! You are now a licensed respiratory therapist in Massachusetts! Your license expires on May 31 of the next even-numbered year. You must fulfill continuing education requirements to keep your license up to date. You may renew your license online.

Continuing Education for Respiratory Therapists in Massachusetts

By May 31 of every even-numbered year, you must have completed 15-hours of continuing respiratory therapy education to maintain your license. No more than four hours may be from a recredentialing examination. No more than six hours may be from correspondence courses. No continuing education hours need to be accrued during your first renewal period. The following types of activities qualify for continuing education credit:

  • Academic courses relevant to respiratory care
  • Correspondence courses
  • Recredentialing exam
  • Planned and supervised clinical experience
  • Seminars or workshops

Professional Societies in Massachusetts

The main professional society for respiratory therapists in Massachusetts is the Massachusetts Society for Respiratory Care. This society provides continuing education opportunities, networking and advocacy for all who work in the respiratory care profession in the commonwealth.

Another professional society in which you might be interested is the American Lung Association Massachusetts Pulmonary Section. This society consists of professionals who work in the lung field, including respiratory therapists, pulmonologists, sleep specialists, asthma educators, physicians and more.

Top Employers of Respiratory Therapists in Massachusetts

There are many potential employers of respiratory therapists in Massachusetts. Some of the largest are:

  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – Boston
  • Granite Medical Group – Quincy
  • Boston Children’s Hospital – Boston
  • University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center – Worcester, Marlborough and Clinton
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Boston
  • Norwood Hospital – Norwood
  • Winchester Hospital – Winchester
  • North Shore Medical Center – Lynn
  • Holy Family Hospital – Methuen
  • New England Sinai Hospital – Boston

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