How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Michigan

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is considering deregulating 19 health care occupations, including respiratory therapy. LARA argues that the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), the national credentialing agency for RTs, provides all the regulation necessary. Respiratory therapists in Michigan generally oppose deregulation, worrying that patient safety will be compromised if training is not mandated and monitored at the state level.

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As of September 2014, and until LARA states otherwise, respiratory therapists must meet educational and examination requirements in order to become licensed in Michigan. If you would like to become a respiratory therapist in Michigan, follow these steps:

Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program
Pass Your NBRC Examinations
Apply for Your Michigan Respiratory Therapist’s License
Maintain Your Michigan Respiratory Therapist’s License



Step 1. Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program

There are a total of 13 respiratory therapy degree programs in Michigan that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

The Michigan Board of Respiratory Care requires you to be certified at the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) level, at minimum, which is a step below the RRT level. All 13 programs train students to become Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) and offer an associate degree at their culmination.

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Most respiratory therapy degree programs in Michigan carry prerequisites that you must fulfill before you may enroll in the program. They may include:

    • Completion of college courses including:
      • Anatomy and physiology
      • Chemistry
      • Medical terminology

  • College GPA of 2.7 minimum
  • Proficiency in math, reading, writing (you may be asked to pass basic skills tests prior to enrollment in a respiratory therapy degree program)

Each of these programs combines classroom or online courses with laboratory work and a clinical practicum. Courses that you will take regardless of the respiratory therapy degree program in Michigan you choose should include:

  • Algebra
  • Respiratory care practices and procedures
  • Cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology
  • Cardiopulmonary pathophysiology
  • Clinical care

The clinical care portion of your studies will likely take place in a nearby medical center that partners with the college you have chosen. You will be placed into a real-life respiratory therapist job setting and work under the supervision of a CRT-licensed (at the minimum) respiratory therapist practicing what you have learned in your coursework. Before you are placed in a clinical care situation, you must:

  • Pass a physical exam and TB screening
  • Show evidence that you have received all necessary immunizations/titers/vaccinations
  • Show evidence that you carry health insurance
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Pass a drug screening test



Step 2. Pass Your NBRC Examinations

The Michigan Board of Respiratory Care states that you must be at least a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) in order to become licensed to work in Michigan. However, your college program has prepared you for the next level, Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

You should consider taking both examinations within three years after graduation. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) has set this deadline if you intend to pass both the CRT and RRT examination process.

Both the CRT and RRT require you to pass the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination, although you are required to achieve a higher passing score before you may move on to the clinical simulation component required for the RRT credential.

The clinical section required for RRT credentialing is known as the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE), and is made up of 22 patient management problems, 20 of which are scored.

Assessment centers where you may take both exams are found in Grand Rapids, Flint, and Dearborn (Detroit).



Step 3. Apply for Your Michigan Respiratory Therapist’s License

You should now be prepared to apply for your Michigan respiratory therapist license. Use the Respiratory Therapist by Examination application. Along with your application packet, you will need:

  • Check or money order for $95 payable to the State of Michigan
  • Have your final transcripts showing receipt of your associate degree sent directly from your school to the Michigan Board of Respiratory Care
  • Send Section II of the application to the director of your school’s respiratory therapy program. He or she must complete the Certification of Completion of Respiratory Therapy Program and send the form back to the Michigan Board of Respiratory Care
  • Have the NBRC submit official score report(s) from your CRT and RRT exams directly to the Michigan Board of Respiratory Care
  • If you ever held a license in another state, have verification/certification of that license sent directly to the Michigan Board of Respiratory Care
  • No later than 10 days after submitting your application, contact an approved agency to begin the criminal background check process. A list of approved agencies is included in the application packet

Mail everything above to Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Health Care Services, Health Licensing Division, P.O. Box 30670, Lansing, MI 48909. Allow two to four weeks for receipt and processing of your application.



Step 4. Maintain Your Michigan Respiratory Therapist’s License

Your initial license may expire anywhere from four months to one year from the date you received it, depending on when it was issued within the renewal cycle. After that, licenses expire every two years.

You should expect to receive a relicensure notification by mail between 45 and 60 days prior to its expiration date.

You may either renew online and pay the $115 fee via credit card, or use the Respiratory Therapist Relicensure Application and pay the relicensure fee via check or money order payable to the State of Michigan.

The Michigan Board of Respiratory Care does not require respiratory therapists to complete continuing education for relicensure purposes. You are expected, however, to maintain professional competency, and if you feel you need to take continuing education courses in order to help you do so, you may sign up for courses through local colleges and universities, professional societies, and the like.

Professional Societies in Michigan

Respiratory therapists in Michigan commonly join the Michigan Society for Respiratory Care. This group provides professional advocacy, education resources, and public awareness for the respiratory therapist profession in Michigan.

Top Employers of Respiratory Therapists in Michigan

Typically, respiratory therapists in Michigan work for hospitals, health care and medical centers. Some of the chief employers of respiratory therapists in Michigan include, but are not limited to:

  • Botsford Hospital – Farmington Hills
  • Saint Joseph Mercy Health System – Livonia, Chelsea
  • Beaumont Hospital – Troy
  • Oakwood Hospital – Taylor
  • MidMichigan Health – Alma
  • Henry Ford Health System – Detroit
  • Munson Healthcare – Traverse City
  • Carson Health Network – Carson City
  • Memorial Healthcare – Owosso
  • Holland Hospital – Holland

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