Midlevel Respiratory Care Practitioner
I am a member of several respiratory therapy groups on different social media websites. I find these groups to be, for the most part, good for the profession in terms of the camaraderie and discussion that they generate. Topics range anywhere from, "Hey, I am a RT student studying for boards..." , to "Does anyone use Atrovent as a drying agent?" Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the formation of a midlevel respiratory care practitioner, that would be on par with a nurse practitioner or a physicians assistant. I do not claim to be an expert on all the ins and outs of this new position, but I will explain it as I have come to understand it, and if I am wrong feel free to light up the comments board and let me know where I went wrong.
Apparently, some time ago, there was an initiative that was put before Congress called the Respiratory Care Initiative. In this initiative, there was a provision that would allow RTs with a certain degree of education to practice under the direct supervision of a physician, much like a nurse practitioner. For whatever reasons, this part of the bill did not pass or was tabled, though from my understanding it is now under discussion again and will be put into practice within the next 5-10 years, depending on who you talk to.
As I understand it, there are a few hang-ups with the RC midlevel position at this time. There is no consensus that I can find that says exactly what level of education will be required. Some I have talked to say just a bachelor's degree; some say any bachelor's will do and others say BSRT. Some say it will require a masters in respiratory care. Basically, there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut outline as to how this credentialing will be laid out or how it will be implemented, only that there is a pretty big buzz that it is for sure going to happen.
This is great news for the profession, even if it is mostly up in the air at this point. A respiratory therapy midlevel position is a huge breakthrough for our profession which has always played little brother to nursing. I want to encourage all readers of this blog to visit www.aarc.org/advocacy/ and write your congressman in support of this bill.