The Respiratory Licensure Mess
I read a story about the Oregon Health Licensing Agency turning 10 recently. It brought to mind all the licenses I have had over the years and the huge amount of money and time I have spent to get them. Almost any licensing agency claims to be working on "streamlining" the process and providing oversight to respiratory therapists.
One state, Alaska, doesn't require a respiratory license. The other 49 all have different requirements and varying timelines in getting a license to work. I am always amazed that after years of licensure, we still have an archaic system that discriminates against good therapists trying to help out in other states.
There's no difference between the therapy you do in New Hampshire and the therapy you do in Arizona, but you must have a license in each state in order to work. We need a central agency to monitor us and to provide us with licenses to work and temporary licenses so we can start working somewhere new when we want. The current system doesn't work, doesn't provide any oversight for therapists to speak of, and is too expensive to make it worth any college student's while to consider going into respiratory therapy. Especially if you have dreams of traveling for a living, it just costs too much and there are too many rules and regulations, unique to each state, to keep up with.
If I can have national credentials, I should have a national license. At the very least, states should work with each other and acknowledge licenses from other states. When I worked for a travel company, the biggest hold up for me going to my next assignment was waiting on the new state to grant me a license, even though I had licenses in several other states. According to the AARC, states charge from $75 to $270 for licenses. California's system is so complicated it cannot even tell you how much you'll spend, just that you have to contact them to find out.
At the very minimum, let's put a cap on what states can charge for licensure. Let's make a standard of how many CEUs are needed and the costs of licenses within the U.S. and additional licenses for those who work across state lines or travel. This seems sensible and long overdue in the field of respiratory therapy. There's no need to go broke just because you like to travel and no need to be confused about licensure requirements just because you want to work more than one place.
That's just my opinion,
Jim Thacker, BS, CRT, AE-C