There has been a fair amount of confusion about PFT lab staff licensure requirements. This information is not available on the AARC website, nor on any of the AARC state society websites. A month or so ago I reached out to all of the AARC state societies but received responses from only a handful of them. I was recently able to complete this research however, by visiting the websites of the remaining state licensing boards and state legislatures.
It turns out that the majority of states require licensure of PFT Lab staff, most often by requiring CRT or RRT credentials, occasionally by allowing CPFT and RPFT credentials and in a couple of cases, a state licensure exam. There were also a couple of cases where the regulations were so vaguely written that it wasn’t clear whether pulmonary function testing fell under the Respiratory Care practitioner scope of practice or not.
Anyway, based on state society feedback and my best interpretation of the relevant laws and regulations, the following list should be a reasonably accurate look at the licensure requirements for each state.
|Arizona||Yes||CPFT, RPFT, CRT, RRT||Link|
|California||Yes||State licensure exam||Link|
|Colorado||Yes||CPFT, RPFT, CRT, RRT||Link|
|Illinois||Yes||CPFT, RPFT, CRT, RRT||Link|
|Iowa||Yes||CPFT, RPFT, CRT, RRT||Link|
|Montana||Yes||CPFT, RPFT, CRT, RRT||Link|
|New Hampshire||Yes||CRT, RRT||Link|
|New Jersey||Yes||CRT, RRT||Link|
|New Mexico||Yes||CRT, RRT||Link|
|New York||Yes||CRT, RRT|
|North Carolina||Yes||CRT, RRT|
|North Dakota||Yes||CRT, RRT|
|Rhode Island||Probably Not||Link|
|South Carolina||Yes||CRT, RRT||Link|
|South Dakota||Yes||CRT, RRT||Link|
|Washington||Yes||State licensure exam||Link|
|West Virginia||Yes||CRT, RRT||Link|
|Wisconsin||Yes||Up to hospital|
I have mixed feelings on the subject of licensure. On the one hand my concerns about the level of professionalism in pulmonary function testing (discussed previously) has caused my views to evolve substantially over the last couple of years. I now believe that licensure can and should be a step towards improving the quality of PFT lab staff and testing. Having said that I am extremely disappointed by how few states recognize CPFT and RPFT certification as the most appropriate requirement.
I noticed that the respiratory therapist scope of practice from many different states had mostly the same statements. The AARC has been the state (and national) level advocate for the profession and is likely responsible for this. I’m not necessarily going to blame the AARC, instead I am going to say that it appears that pulmonary function lab staff are remarkably poor advocates for our field.
There’s a lot that needs to fixed in the field of pulmonary function testing if it is going to in any way remain relevant. Going forward I’d like to suggest that even though it isn’t a requirement, all PFT labs should require their staff to obtain, at a minimum, CPFT certification. I’d also like to suggest that we all need to contact our AARC state-level political advocates and lobby for language in the respiratory therapy scope of practice statements that acknowledges the need for CPFT and RPFT certification for performing pulmonary function testing. The reality is that we can’t expect others to fix this for us. We need to advocate for ourselves.
Finally, kudos to the AARC state societies that responded to my questions and knew whether or not licensure was required (or at least acknowledged that they didn’t know). Dingbats to those that didn’t.
PFT Blog by Richard Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License