NBRC CEO Contemplates 2020

As I take a look back, some days I feel as if this year has taken forever, and other days, time seems to be flying by. Despite a few curve balls early in the pandemic, I am proud of all we have accomplished in 2020.  Staying in our lane, we have concentrated on getting qualified respiratory therapists into the workforce as quickly as possible. While many things have changed in our everyday lives, we have continued to keep excellence at the forefront of all we do.

While we could never have predicted how this year would go, I am thankful for how the staff pivoted to working from home and continues to carry out the mission of the NBRC every day.

In the first quarter alone, we were able to realize the following accomplishments –

  • The wait between examination attempts policy became active, ensuring candidates pass the exams for the right reason and are not being overexposed to examination content.
  • Full implementation of the enhanced Credential Maintenance Program saw over 34,000 practitioners engaging with the assessments, which provide an ongoing learning/educational experience.
  • A Message Center was put in place to alert practitioners of important news and deadlines, strengthening the Practitioner Portal.
  • New content for the Therapist Multiple-Choice and Clinical Simulation Examinations rolled out, including a target number of pediatric and neonatal questions.
  • CHOOSE ONE: Every Breath Counts, our social purpose campaign, had excellent participation, allowing practitioners to designate a portion of their annual fee to one of three organizations that champion lung health, resulting in the NBRC donating a total of $200,000 to the American Lung Association, The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Allergy and Asthma Network.

Then March blew in like a lion, and we had to shift gears and deal with the uncertainties that COVID-19 presented. The NBRC has been doing everything within its power to ensure individuals have an opportunity to get their NBRC credentials and enter the workforce, including:

  • Adding a COVID-19 page on our website with pertinent communications, articles, and links,
  • Adjusting policies to allow practitioners to focus on their job of caring for patients, including extending credential expiration dates and provisionally reinstating expired credentials,
  • Working with PSI to provide live remote proctoring when testing centers closed, providing an opportunity for 24/7 testing, and
  • Committing resources to recognize and acknowledge respiratory therapists through our MoreRTs campaign, launched in April.

In mid-June, the staff returned to the office in a hybrid mode and continue to operate in this format today. The staff team has embraced this altered schedule with no issues in service level or productivity, and I could not be more proud of them. We continue to focus on our mission, vision, values, and goals to support and enhance the respiratory care profession.

While in-person meetings came to a screeching halt, we have had many opportunities to engage with the profession and our physician colleagues at virtual conferences and sessions, always thankful to provide updates and continue to build relationships. Kudos to our Board and committees for smoothly pivoting to conduct business and exam development work in a virtual environment, but we are anxious to get back together in person soon.

We continue to collaborate with the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC), Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), and other professional organizations to discuss the future of respiratory care, including advanced practice respiratory therapists, recruitment and retention, promotion of the profession and new credential exam development.

2020 has been a year full of challenges, but the NBRC has faced each one head-on and provided quick and comprehensive solutions for our candidates and practitioners. We were able to successfully pivot to working from home, stand up a remote proctoring solution to get candidates tested and ultimately credentialed, adjust a variety of policies and processes for credentialed practitioners and exam candidates, and launch the MoreRTs campaign in just a short six weeks.

As the year draws to a close, please know that our commitment to our mission will not waiver, and we will continue to ensure our practitioners are defined by excellence. The Board of Trustees and staff are forever grateful for each and every one of you who have worked and continue to work, tirelessly and courageously.

Wishing you and yours much peace, joy, and good health this holiday season and into the new year.  Be well!