Practice Alerts and FAQs

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Frequently Asked Practice Questions

Scope of Practice | Licensure and Registration | Title and Identification | Infection Control Requirements

As a licensed respiratory therapist or respiratory therapy technician you may have questions about the practice of your profession. The following section may help you answer some of the most common questions. This section is based upon questions submitted to the State Board for Respiratory Therapy by licensed respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians like you.

Scope of Practice:

  1. What is the scope of practice of respiratory therapy?

    As defined in Section 8501 of the Education Law, the practice of the profession of respiratory therapy, which shall be undertaken pursuant to the direction of a duly licensed physician, is defined as the performance of cardiopulmonary evaluation, respiratory therapy treatment techniques, and education of the patient, family and public.

    1. Evaluation shall include the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data obtained from physiological specimens, performing diagnostic tests, studies and research of the cardiopulmonary system and neurophysiological studies related to respiratory care.
    2. Therapy shall include the application and monitoring of medical gases (excluding anesthetic gases) and environmental control systems, mechanical ventilatory support, artificial airway care, bronchopulmonary hygiene, pharmacologic agents related to respiratory care procedures, and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation related and limited to respiratory care.
    3. Respiratory therapy services may be performed pursuant to a prescription of a licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner.

    As defined in Section 8508 of the Education law, a respiratory therapy technician means a person licensed in accordance with this article who works under the supervision of a licensed respiratory therapist or a licensed or otherwise legally authorized physician performing tasks and responsibilities within the framework of the practice of respiratory therapy.

  2. Can I do everything that falls within the legal scope of the practice of my profession?

    A licensee may legally perform services that are in the definition of the scope of practice but licensees must also be competent to deliver those services. Part 29 of the Rules of the Board of Regents requires that licensees practice within the scope defined in law and within their personal scope of competence. If you are not competent to provide a service that you are legally allowed to provide, then you may not provide that service. As a licensed professional, it is your responsibility to practice within the scope of your abilities and expertise. If you practice outside your personal scope of competence, you may be charged with professional misconduct.

  3. What type of medications may a respiratory therapist administer to patients?

    Respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians can administer medications that are directly related to respiratory care procedures. There is no restriction on the routes of administration of such medications. It is expected that the licensee has gained competence in performing medication administration through education and experience.

  4. Is it within the scope of practice of a respiratory therapist to insert an intravenous line?

    Insertion of an intravenous line may be within the scope of practice of respiratory therapy if the purpose of the line is directly related to providing respiratory care. It is expected that the licensee can demonstrate competence in this procedure.

  5. Is it within the scope of practice of a respiratory therapist to insert an arterial line?

    Insertion of an arterial line is within the scope of practice of respiratory therapy when the arterial line is inserted to monitor medical gases. It is expected that the licensee is competent to perform the procedure through education and experience.

  6. Can respiratory therapists accept an order for treatment from a nurse practitioner (NP)?

    Yes, Section 8501 of Article 164 of the Education Law was amended in 2004 to permit respiratory therapy services to be performed based on a prescription from a certified nurse practitioner.

  7. If I am unsure about whether something falls within my legal scope of practice, how can I find out?

    Please contact the New York State Board for Respiratory Therapy by mail at:

    New York State Education Department
    State Board for Respiratory Therapy
    89 Washington Avenue, Second Floor
    Albany, New York, 12234-1000
    Phone: 518-474-3817 ext. 120
    E-mail: rtbd@nysed.gov

Licensure and Registration:

  1. What is the difference between licensure and registration?

    For each of the professions regulated by the State Education Department, licensees are licensed for life unless that license is revoked or suspended by the Board of Regents. In order to practice, however, you must be registered with the Department. In respiratory therapy, registration is required every three years. The Department typically sends out a renewal request four months before the beginning of the new renewal cycle. If you do not receive a renewal notice, please contact the Office of the Professions' Registration Unit at 518-474-3817 ext. 410 or opregfee@nysed.gov. You are responsible for renewing your registration even if you do not receive an automatic renewal form. You can confirm your registration expiration date through the Office of the Professions' online license verification service here.

  2. Do I need to keep my registration certificate on me in order to practice?

    Not necessarily, although the registration certificate must be available for inspection upon request. In many facilities copies of the registration certificates of all licensed staff are maintained in a centralized office. This requirement is set out in Part 59.8(c) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

Title and Identification:

  1. What is my official professional title?

    The Respiratory Therapy Practice Act, presented in Article 164 of the New York State Education Law defines the professional titles of respiratory care providers as Respiratory Therapists (RTs) or Respiratory Therapy Technicians (RTTs). That is the title that must be included on your identification badge. Other titles, including those granted from national specialty organizations such as the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) may also be used but are optional.

  2. Must I wear an identification badge when I am providing respiratory therapy services in a healthcare setting?

    You must wear an identification badge indicating your name and your professional title if you are practicing as an employee of a hospital, clinic, group practice or multi-professional facility or at a commercial establishment offering health services to the public. This requirement is set out in Part 29.2(a)(9) of the Rules of the Board of Regents.

Infection Control Requirements:

  1. I understand that respiratory therapy care practitioners are not included in the law that mandates infection control education as a condition of licensure and registration. What does that mean for me specifically?

    Respiratory care practitioners are not required to complete an infection control course as a condition of licensure and continued registration, however, you are required to use scientifically accepted infection prevention techniques and practices according to Part 29.2(a)(13) of the Rules of the Board of Regents.

Last Updated: November 2, 2012