Respiratory therapists must be licensed in all U.S. states with the exception of Alaska. However, Alaska’s respiratory therapists are still expected to complete a degree in respiratory therapy to become proficient in the field, and are encouraged to earn nationally recognized RT credentials as a way to remain competitive in the field.
Therefore, if you want to become a respiratory therapist in Alaska, you should strive to complete a number of steps:
|Complete a Degree Program in Respiratory Therapy
|Consider Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) Certification
|Become Employed as a Respiratory Therapist in Alaska
Step 1. Complete a Degree Program in Respiratory Therapy
To achieve the nationally recognized CRT certified respiratory therapist credential through the National Board for Respiratory Care, you must complete a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation or Respiratory Care (CoARC).
There are no CoARC accredited programs in Alaska; however, in Washington, there are five and Oregon is home to another four.
Respiratory therapy programs may be structured as associate’s degree (AS or AAS) degrees, or they may be part of a bachelor’s degree program. Although an associate’s degree is the minimum required degree for CRT certification, many individuals choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree, as many of today’s employers seek respiratory therapists with an advanced education.
A degree in respiratory therapy prepares students to fulfill the role of an entry-level RT, perform respiratory assessment using critical thinking skills, and apply the skills necessary to work alongside physicians to provide respiratory care.
Coursework in RT programs may include:
- Introduction to Respiratory Care
- Therapeutic modalities
- Respiratory care science
- Cardiorespiratory pharmacology
- Introduction to critical care
Step 2. Consider National Certification in Respiratory Therapy
The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is a certifying board that was created to evaluate the professional competence of respiratory therapists.
The Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential through the NBRC is the entry-level credential required by all state that enforce RT licensure. Respiratory therapists in Alaska may be best served by achieving this nationally recognized certification.
The CRT examination includes 160 multiple-choice questions in the following content areas: clinical data, therapeutic procedures, and equipment. Test takers are given three hours to complete this examination.
You must be at least 18 years old and possess a CoARC-accredited associate’s degree or higher to qualify to take the CRT examination. If you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy, you may qualify to take the CRT examination before graduating, provided your educational institution supplies the NBRC with a special certificate of completion that shows that you have completed all coursework requirements for accreditation.
The CRT examination is offered year-round through AMP Test Centers. In Alaska, you may take the CRT examination in Anchorage. You can apply to take the CRT examination through the AMP’s online registration system.
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) through the NBRC is an advanced-level credential for RTs with advanced training and/or education. To qualify for the RRT credential, you must first possess a CRT credential from the NBRC.
The RRT examination’s written portion is the same as one used for the CRT credential, but requires a higher passing score in order to advnace on to the clinical simulation portion, which must also be passed to earn the RRT credential. You may schedule and take these examinations at the same time or at different times. The written exam, referred to as the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) consists of 160 multiple-choice questions (140 of which are scored) that cover the following topics:
- Application and analysis of clinical data
- Quality Control of Equipment and Infection Control
- Equipment and therapeutic procedures
The Clinical Simulation examination portion of the RRT exam consists of 22 patient management problems that are designed to simulate reality in respiratory care practice.
As of January 1, 2005, graduates of accredited, advanced-level respiratory care education programs have three years after graduation to complete the examinations.
Step 3. Become Employed as a Respiratory Therapist in Alaska
The Alaska Society for Respiratory Care is a community for respiratory therapists in Alaska and is home to a wealth of information on respiratory therapist events and industry developments.
The largest employers of respiratory therapists in Alaska are the state’s major hospitals:
- Providence Alaska Medical Center
- Central Peninsula General Hospital
- Fairbanks Memorial Hospital
- Mat-Su Regional Medical Center
- Alaska Regional Hospital
- South Peninsula Hospital
- Bartlett Regional Hospital
- Ketchikan General Hospital
- Alaska Native Medical Center