The RRT exam, formally known as the Registered Respiratory Therapist Examination, is a challenging and comprehensive assessment for men and women looking to enter this rewarding and fast-paced field of health care. This exam is developed by the National Board for Respiratory Care in consultation with an expert team of test administrators.
The RRT exam is divided into two parts, a clinical simulation examination and a written test. The clinical simulation examination consists of 10 patient management scenarios, which must be resolved within four hours. The two-hour written test consists of 115 multiple-choice questions, 15 of which are unscored pretest items used to develop future versions of the exam.
The RRT examination is divided into three content areas: patient data evaluation and recommendations (20 items); equipment application and cleanliness (18 items); and therapeutic procedure initiation and modification (62 items). Within each of these content areas, there are certain tasks that an advanced respiratory therapist needs to understand.
In the first content area (patient data evaluation and recommendations), a candidate must be able to review existing data in the patient record, collect and evaluate additional pertinent clinical information, and recommend procedures to obtain additional data.
The second content area, equipment application and cleanliness, covers selecting, assembling, using, and troubleshooting equipment; ensuring infection control; and performing quality control procedures on the major pieces of equipment required by the field. These include blood gas analyzers, co-oximeters, oxygen analyzers, pulmonary function equipment, and mechanical ventilators.
The third content area of the RRT exam, therapeutic initiation and modification, covers the broadest range of professional tasks. Candidates must understand how to maintain records and communicate information. They must know how to maintain a patent airway, remove bronchopulmonary secretions, and achieve adequate respiratory support. RRTs must be able to evaluate and monitor the patient’s objective and subjective responses to respiratory care; and they must use these responses to modify treatment techniques, recommend certain modifications, and determine the efficacy of the prescribed care plan. RRT exam candidates must be able to initiate, conduct, and modify respiratory care techniques in an emergency setting; have the ability to assist the physician during special procedures; and know how to initiate and conduct pulmonary rehabilitation and home care within the prescription.