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   Continuing Education Requirements For
       Pennsylvania Respiratory Therapists

Welcome to the PSRC's "Members Only" page focusing on the continuing education requirement for Respiratory Therapists in Pennsylvania!  This page provides the latest information for you, our members, as a benefit of your membership.  This page was started on September 1, 2008 following the signing of an update to the Respiratory Care Practice Act.  Updates will be posted as more information is received on the updated law. 

Click on any of the following updates OR simply scroll down!
Update5/26/09     5/1/09     3/25/09     3/1/09     2/1/09     9/1/08

If you are looking for the most current continuing education requirements for Respiratory Therapists in Pennsylvania, CLICK HERE or scroll to the bottom of this page!

UPDATE - May 26, 2009

The PSRC learned late today that the new continuing education requirements signed into law on July 4, 2008, will NOT go into effect until the licensing period that begins January 1, 2011.  Bette Grey, BA, RRT, CPFT who is currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Board of Medicine, informed the PSRC that the requirements will not go into effect until the next licensing period.  However, the wording changes that license Respiratory Therapists went into effect 60 days after the new law was signed so RTs are now licensed!

What Are The Continuing Education Requirements for 2009-2010?

Since the new continuing education requirements will not go into effect until January 1, 2011, all Respiratory Therapists licensed in Pennsylvania must complete 20 hours of accredited continuing education.  A minimum of 10 hours must be completed via "LIVE" events (including seminars & live webcasts) with the remaining hours completed either via live events or through other non-traditional methods (i.e. internet courses, CD-ROM, journals, etc.).  In addition, at least 1 hour (of the total 20) must be completed in courses related to ethics and patient safety.  The ethics and safety courses may be completed via "live" or non-traditional programs.  

Status of Promulgation of New Regulations

The new regulations that will regulate the new continuing education requirement (that takes effect January 1, 2011) are currently being written and will hopefully be completed by the end of 2009.  Once completed and approved, all licensed therapists in the state will be notified by the Board of Medicine.

UPDATE - May 1, 2009

PSRC Executive Director Tom Lamphere BS, RRT, RPFT attended the PA State Board of Medicine meeting on April 28th along with Angie Armburst from the Winter Group, the PSRC's lobbying group.  The recommendations from the Committee on Health Related Professionals were presented to the full Board of Medicine and were accepted.  The regulations will now be scheduled for publication for public comment in the Pennsylvania Bulletin in late summer or early fall.  The current timetable for completion of the regulations is late 2009 or early 2010.  

UPDATE - March 25, 2009

PSRC Executive Director Tom Lamphere BS, RRT, RPFT attended the PA State Board of Medicine's  Committee on Health Related Professionals meeting on March 24th along with Angie Armburst from the Winter Group, the PSRC's lobbying group.  Discussion at the meeting centered on the # of hours of "live" continuing education that would be required once the total hourly requirement was increased to 30 hours.  In addition, the committee discussed the use of continuing education hours earned at Basic Life Support courses as well as Advanced Life Support courses (ACLS, NALS, PALS, etc.) toward the continuing education requirement.  The committee's recommendations will be presented at the April Board of Medicine meeting.

UPDATE - March 1, 2009

PSRC Executive Director Tom Lamphere BS, RRT, RPFT attended the PA State Board of Medicine meeting last week along with Angie Armburst from the Winter Group, the PSRC's lobbying group.  Prior to the meeting, a letter from PSRC Board of Directors was sent to the Board of Medicine providing input concerning the new regulations including a recommendation that no more than 1/2 of the new 30 hour requirement (15 hours) be required at "live" events.  After receiving the PSRC's letter, the Board of Medicine referred the regulations to the Committee on Health Related Professionals for discussion prior to the March Board of Medicine meeting.

UPDATE - February 1, 2009

The PA State Board of Medicine and the Osteopathic Board of Medicine have begun the work of promulgating regulations regarding the new continuing education requirement signed into law 7/4/08.  The PSRC along with representatives from the Winter Group will be attending the State Board of Medicine meetings in the coming months to follow this process and provide input to the Board regarding these regulations.

UPDATE - September 1, 2008

On July 4, 2008, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signed legislation, proposed by the PSRC, that will change the document issued by the state to respiratory therapists form a "certificate" to a "license".  Once this law takes effect, respiratory therapists will join other licensed healthcare workers including physicians, nurses and physical therapists and will be LICENSED by the Commonwealth! Although the majority of therapists in the state believed they already were licensed when they received their credential to practice from either the PA State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, prior to the signing of this new law, this was actually not the case.  The wording of the original credentialing law stated that therapists were "certified" by the state....not "licensed".  This led to many instances of confusion over the years since successful completion of the entry level national credentialing exam allows the therapist to use the "Certified Respiratory Therapist" credential.

The new law incorporates several changes (other than wording changes from "certificate" to "license" that will have an effect on respiratory therapists as well, including:

Changes in Continuing Education Requirement

As part of his "Prescription for Pennsylvania", Governor Rendell wants all licensed Allied Health professionals in the Commonwealth complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years.  Physicians, Pharmacists, Nurses (& Nurse Midwives), and Athletic Trainers all require 30 hours or more.  Therefore, as part of the new law licensing Respiratory Therapists, the number of continuing education hours will be increased to 30 hours every two years.  The law continues the requirement of completing a minimum of ONE hour each (of the 30 total hours) in courses related to "patient safety" and in "ethics".

The rules and regulations regarding the changes in the Continuing Education Requirement have not yet been determined (including the implementation date).  However, the continuing education requirement for the current credentialing period (ending December 31, 2008) will NOT be changed and remains at 20 hours.  Keep an eye on the PSRC website for updates on the regulations regarding the new requirement as soon as they are known.

Other Changes..

There are several other minor wording changes including the re-wording of exemption rule for therapists obtaining a license in the state for the first time (i.e. new graduates and RTs moving here from out of state).  The old wording was difficult to interpret in regards to the actual requirement.  The new rule states "An individual applying for the first time for licensure in this Commonwealth shall be exempted from the continuing education requirement for the biennial renewal period in which licensure is obtained."  This means that whenever a therapist obtains their license, they are not required to complete continuing education hours until that license expires. 

Another change includes the addition of a "good moral character" clause in meeting the requirements for licensure.

It's important to note that although Respiratory Therapists will now be licensed, their license will continue to be issued by the PA State Board of Medicine or State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.  These two Boards are responsible for issuing licenses to Physicians, Physician Assistants, Respiratory Therapists, Athletic Trainers, Acupuncturists, and Nursing Midwives

The current regulations listed below are STILL in effect and the new law will not change the requirement for the current licensing period that ends 12/31/08. 


(Published September, 2006 and October, 2007, respectively)

1.   In order to renew a license, completion of 20 credit hours of continuing education in the
     preceding biennial period, which runs from January 1 of the odd year through December 31
     of the next even year is required for respiratory care practitioners.  The current biennial
     period began January 1, 2007 and ends December 31, 2008. 

2.   At least 10 hours (of the total 20 required hours) must be obtained through classroom
     lecture, clinical presentation, real-time web-cast or other live sessions where a presenter is

3.   No more than 10 continuing education hours may be obtained through Internet
     presentations, journal review programs, prerecorded video presentations or similar means
     of nontraditional education.

4.   Beginning with the biennial renewal period that will end December 31, 2008, one (1)
     continuing education hour shall be completed in medical ethics, and one (1) continuing
     education hour shall be completed in patient safety.

5.   The Boards will not accept courses of study, which do not relate to the clinical aspects of
     respiratory care, such as studies in office management and financial procedures.

6.   The Boards accept respiratory care continuing education programs designated for
     professional development credits by AARC, AMA, AOA and CSRT. The courses, locations
     and instructors provided by these organizations for continuing education in respiratory care
     are deemed approved by the Boards. Qualifying AMA continuing education programs shall
     be in AMA PRA Category I and qualifying AOA continuing education programs shall be in
     Category 1A and 1B.

7.  To qualify, the provider shall make available documented verification of completion of the
     course or program.

8.   The following exemptions apply for certain respiratory care practitioners:

     >  A respiratory care practitioner applying for certification in this Commonwealth for the first
         time, shall be exempt from the continuing education requirement for the biennial renewal
         period in which initial certification is acquired.

9.   Waiver of the CME requirements may be permitted as follows:

     >  The Boards may grant a hardship waiver of all or a part of the continuing medical
          education requirement in cases of serious illness, military service or other good cause
          provided that the public’s safety and welfare will not be jeopardized by the granting of the

     A request for waiver must be made in writing, with appropriate documentation, and include a
     detailed description of circumstances sufficient to show why compliance is impossible. 
     Waiver requests will be evaluated by the board on a case-by-case basis. The Board will
     send written notification of its approval or denial of a waiver request.