How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Mississippi

The Professional Licensure Division of the Mississippi State Department of Health regulates health care practitioners in the state. This includes providing licenses to respiratory therapists. Here are the steps you need to take to become a respiratory therapist in Mississippi:

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Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program
Consider Applying for Your Temporary Permit
Pass Your NBRC Exam(s)
Apply for Your Mississippi Regular License
Maintain Your Mississippi Regular License Through Continuing Education

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Mississippi had the second highest concentration of respiratory therapy jobs of any state in the country in 2013. Mississippi’s Labor Market Information indicated that nearly half of the state’s respiratory therapy jobs were in these Metropolitan Statistical Areas:

  • Jackson – 29%
  • Gulfport-Biloxi – 10%
  • Hattiesburg – 6%

In addition to finding work in the cities, rural areas can also be good sources for respiratory therapist jobs in Mississippi. The BLS indicated that the non-metropolitan area of northeast Mississippi had the third highest level of respiratory therapy employment of any such area in the country.

Respiratory therapy employment levels in Mississippi will be increasing faster than the national average over the next several years. The Mississippi Department of Economic Security projects 25.8% growth in the field from 2010 to 2020.



Step 1. Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program

Your first step to become a respiratory therapist in Mississippi is to enroll in an associate’s degree program. Eight respiratory therapy training programs are accredited to offer these degrees in Mississippi. You can get either an associate of science or an associate of applied science degree in respiratory care or respiratory care technology.

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According to the Council on the Accreditation of Respiratory Care (CoARC), 119 people enrolled in such Mississippi programs in 2012. These programs have a high success rate in preparing their students for employment. Over 92% of Mississippi’s 2013 respiratory therapy graduates found jobs.

You will start your education by taking prerequisite courses. All of the programs require that you take I and II level Human anatomy and physiology or Anatomy and physiology. Some of the schools also require that you take intermediate or college level algebra.

Respiratory Care Program Requirements and Coursework

You will typically apply to your respiratory care program in May of your first year. Passing your prerequisites does not guarantee that you will be accepted into this program. Space in the respiratory care programs is limited, so they select the most promising students. The program directors will examine the following types of information to determine if you will be chosen:

  • Composite ACT scores
  • Compass reading and math scores
  • Any relevant medical experience
  • Overall GPA
  • Interview results

Some schools require a health certificate for you to be able to apply to their respiratory care program, while others require a physical exam once you have been accepted. You may have to complete a pre-entrance exam after your acceptance.

Once you have been selected for your respiratory care program, you will then take specific respiratory care coursework such as:

  • Respiratory care technology
  • Pulmonary function testing
  • Cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology
  • Cardiopulmonary pathology

Clinical Practice

After you have completed your coursework, you will obtain practical experience working with patients within affiliate clinics. Before you can do this, Mississippi State Law requires that you complete a fingerprint criminal background check. You will have to pay for this step. Only results from the Mississippi Department of Health will be accepted.

Your clinical phase is the heart of your educational experience. You will work under the supervision of a clinical instructor to learn the practice of respiratory care firsthand. Your education will prepare you to apply for advanced level certification in the field of respiratory therapy.



Step 2. Consider Applying for Your Temporary Permit

When you are near the end of your clinical phase, you may want to apply for a Temporary Permit to practice respiratory care. You can get this permit up to one year after your graduation. It is good for six months.

The state of Mississippi will consider your application providing that you meet these two requirements:

  • That you are within 30 days of your graduation
  • That you are eligible to sit for a respiratory therapy certification exam

You must provide these items with your notarized application:

  • A copy of your driver’s license or social security card
  • An original passport style photo
  • Your application fee
  • Verification of Education form
  • Copies of any licenses or registrations that you might have from other states



Step 3. Pass Your NBRC Exam(s)

Once you have finished your education, you will need to take at least one of the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) certification exams. Obtaining an NBRC credential will enable you to qualify for an RT license in Mississippi.

You must pass the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination and earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential to qualify for RT licensure in Mississippi.

If you choose to pursue the advanced Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential, you must pass the same multiple choice exam, however the scoring requirements will be more stringent. You must then go on to pass the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE) in order to qualify for RRT credentialing.

You would be well advised to get RRT certification, since it will provide you with more job options.

All of the education programs offered in Mississippi train you at an advanced level, so you should be qualified to take the RRT exam. Enroll to take NBRC exams online, and schedule to take them at the AMP (Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc.) site in Jackson. It is located in the H & R Block Office in the Deville Plaza Shopping Center off I-55.



Step 4. Apply for Your Mississippi Regular License

When you have obtained NBRC certification you can apply for your Regular License. You must get your application notarized and provide these items with it:

  • Copy of your driver’s license or social security card
  • Original passport style photo
  • Your application fee
  • A copy or your NBRC card, pasting test scores, or certificate
  • Copies of any licenses or registrations from other states
  • Complete your online request for credential verification

Your license will be good for up to two years. The license period runs from September 1 through August 31 of odd numbered years.



Step 5. Maintain Your Mississippi Regular License Through Continuing Education

Respiratory Care in Mississippi Hospitals

While you have a variety of employment options, including manufacturers of respiratory equipment, most respiratory therapists work at hospitals. Mississippi has over 100 hospitals, and some of the nationally prominent ones include:

  • Baptist Memorial Hospital—Desoto – Southaven
  • Memorial Hospital at Gulfport – Gulfport
  • University of Mississippi Health Care – Jackson
  • Southwest Mississippi Medical Center – McComb
  • St. Dominic Hospital – Jackson

Respiratory Care Professional Societies

Mississippi has an active association for respiratory therapists: the Mississippi Society for Respiratory Care. In fact, one of the respiratory care programs strongly recommends that its students join this organization and attend its annual conference. Being a member can also be a way for you to obtain the continuing education credits you will need to renew your license.

Another valuable respiratory care professional society is the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). It offers a number of continuing education credits that are free to members.

Continuing Education Requirements to Renew Your License

You will need to maintain a high level of skill and knowledge in the field of respiratory therapy to succeed as a respiratory therapist. To ensure this, Mississippi’s Professional Licensure Division requires that you take part in continuing education. This is a requirement for renewing your Regular License. It does not apply to a Temporary Permit.

The Department of Health will send you a notice in the mail thirty days before you need to renew your license. It will include instruction on how to renew it. You can renew online if you have a recent license in good standing.

You will need to take part in 20 clock hours of continuing education during your license period to be able to renew it. If you have had your license for less than two years, they will prorate the amount of credits that you need and let you know the amount required in your notice.

Your continuing education credits must apply to the field of respiratory or health care and performance and meet one of these goals:

  • Allow you to enhance your skills and knowledge
  • Extend your limits of professional opportunities and capabilities
  • Facilitate your personal contributions to advance your profession
  • Provide opportunities for interdisciplinary learning
  • Update your knowledge and skills for your performance to be greater than entry level

Sources of Continuing Education Credits

You have a number of options for obtaining your continuing education credits. You can get them from these organizations:

  • American Association for Respiratory Care
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • American Nursing Association
  • Clinical Care Nurses Association
  • Mississippi Nursing Association
  • Mississippi Society for Respiratory Care

You also have the option of getting half of your hours through academic coursework. You must take a course that relates to respiratory care from a regionally accredited school. One semester hour counts as 15 clock hours.

Documenting Your Continuing Education Credits

You will need to submit proof of your continuing education credits when you renew your license. You must submit one of these documents to prove that you attended a workshop, presentation, or seminar:

  • A certificate
  • A reporting form signed by the program’s chairperson
  • Proof that you filed with the AARC

If you are submitting credit hours from courses, you need to provide both a description of the course from the school’s catalog and a copy of your transcript or final grade report.

If you do not submit enough credits, you can get a two year Provisional License. You will have to get credits for the time of your original license and the time of your Provisional License. If you do not do get all of your credits by the end of this license, the department will revoke your license. You will then be unable to work as a respiratory therapist in Mississippi.

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