The Nebraska Department of Labor indicated that 974 respiratory therapists practiced in the state in 2010. As the country’s population ages and develops more respiratory problems, the demand for respiratory therapists nationwide is expected to increase substantially. In Nebraska alone, the demand for respiratory therapy services is expected to increase 13% between 2010 and 2020.
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The Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services regulates the practice of respiratory care in the state and issues licenses to qualified RTs. Follow these steps to become a respiratory therapist in Nebraska:
|Earn at Least an Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy|
|Pass Your CRT or RRT Exam(s)|
|Apply for Your Nebraska Respiratory Care License|
|Maintain Your Nebraska Respiratory Care License with Continuing Education Credits|
Step 1. Earn at Least an Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy
Your first step to becoming a respiratory therapist in Nebraska is to earn a degree in respiratory care from an accredited school. The Commission on the Accreditation of Respiratory Care (CoARC) has approved four Nebraska-based training programs that result in respiratory therapy degrees.
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You have your choice of either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to meet the requirements for licensure in Nebraska. According to a 2013 CoARC report, 91% of the students who enrolled in 2012 chose associate’s programs, which meet the minimum requirements for licensure in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s respiratory therapy programs are effective in preparing their graduates for the job market, as was recently demonstrated by the fact that 93.9% of RT program graduates in 2013 found jobs.
You can choose between getting an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy or a respiratory care technology Associate of Applied Science (RTAAS) degree.
You will start your education by completing your general education requirements along with prerequisite courses for your respiratory care program. Science and math general requirements in one program include:
- Intermediate Algebra
Prerequisites for the respiratory care technology program include:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology I OR Introduction to Biology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology II OR Survey of Human Anatomy and Physiology
- College Chemistry
- Applied Physics
Application to your respiratory care program is a highly involved process. One Nebraska-based program requires that you complete these steps:
- Complete a self-advising sheet
- Submit your paper application
- Complete a health statement that provides proof of vaccinations and immunizations
- Complete a course on CPR for healthcare providers
- Shadow a respiratory therapist for 4 hours
- Complete an interview with the program chair
- Arrange for official copies of your transcripts to be sent to the program
Your combination of coursework lectures and labs along with your clinical training will provide a firm grounding in these areas:
- Care of patients with lung or heart problems
- Diagnostic evaluation
- Disease management
- Patient assessment
Some bachelor’s programs allow you to transition from your RTAAS degree to get a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies with a major in Respiratory Care.
In addition to the courses specific to your respiratory technology program, you will need to take these additional courses before you can transfer to a bachelor’s program:
- Human Growth and Development
- Introduction to Ethics
- Multicultural Issues
- Nutrition in the Life Cycle
- Research Methods
You will gain firsthand experience in these areas through your clinical rotations:
- Pulmonary function/blood gas laboratory
- Pulmonary physician rounds
- Respiratory surgery
Step 2. Pass Your CRT or RRT Exam(s)
Once you have completed your education, you will be ready to take the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) credentialing exam. You must score at least 75 on a scale of 1 to 99 to meet Nebraska’s passing standards.
You can get a license to practice respiratory therapy in Nebraska by passing the entry-level CRT exam. Once you have passed this exam, you are eligible to take the advanced level RRT exam. You will have more job options with an RRT credential.
While you register for these exams online with the NBRC, you will take them at an AMP (Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc.) office. You can find AMP sites in these cities:
- North Platte
Step 3. Apply for Your Nebraska Respiratory Care License
After you have passed your NBRC exam and obtained your respiratory therapy credential, you can apply for your Nebraska Respiratory Care License. You will have to submit a series of documents with your application:
- Proof of being in the U.S. legally
- Official transcript showing that you completed an approved respiratory care program
- Notarized copy of your NBRC score report
- Have the NBRC send a letter verifying that you passed the exam
- Verification of licensure in other jurisdictions if you have been credentialed elsewhere
Step 4. Maintain Your Nebraska Respiratory Care License with Continuing Education Credits
You may find employment as a respiratory therapist in hospitals and private companies. 35% of the 34 respiratory therapy jobs that were advertised online in Nebraska as of August 2014 were with Catholic Health Initiatives.
Nebraska is home to about 100 hospitals, some of the more prominent ones being:
- Alegent Creighton University Medical Center – Omaha
- Bryan LGH Medical Center – Lincoln
- Good Samaritan Hospital – Kearney
- Methodist Hospital – Omaha
- Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha
- Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital – Omaha
- St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center – Lincoln
Respiratory Care Professional Societies in Nebraska
You may want to keep abreast of developments in the respiratory care field by joining professional organizations in the field. Your choices include the Nebraska Society for Respiratory Care (NSRC) and the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). The AARC in particular is a good source of the continuing education credits that you will need to renew your license. If you join the AARC, you automatically become an NSRC member.
Renewing Your License
Your license will expire on June 1 of the first even-numbered year after initial licensure. The Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services will send you a notice at least 30 days before your license is up for renewal. To renew your license, you must have completed at least 20 hours of acceptable continuing education during the previous 2-year period.
You are responsible for documenting your participation in these programs or activities:
- Continuing education summary from the AARC
- Signed certificate along with course brochures, outlines, or contents
Source of Continuing Education Credits
The Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services explains your acceptable sources continuing education sources in Section 162-006 of Chapter 162 of its rules and regulations. Your continuing education activities must relate to the practice of respiratory therapy and can focus on:
These types of activities are acceptable sources for your continuing education:
- State and National Association meetings relating to theory
- Formal education courses or presentations
- Courses sponsored by colleges or universities
- Home study
- Management courses
- Basic or advanced cardiac life support
- Specialty certification exams:
- CPFT = 10 hours
- RPSGT = 10 hours
- NPS = 10 hours
- RPFT = 10 hours
- RRT = 15 hours