Should I keep my RCP license ?

You might recall that in the summer of 2008, I made the decision of NOT renewing my RCP license when it became due. I did so, because for all practical purposes, I didn’t ( and still don’t) plan on returning to active employment in the Respiratory care field….or for that matter….any field. At the time, I didn’t see the sense of continuing to pay bi-annual license fees if I wasn’t going to continue working as an RT. I had actually kept my license and CEU’s current for 2 years after I stopped working, because I didn’t want think of myself as a non RT. I basically kept it active for security blanket reasons.

Well, now I’m faced with that decision again, except this time, whatever I decide ….will be permanent! I have less than 4 months to either pay the late fees totaling $460.00 and renew my license, OR let the time lapse and loose my license permanently. The only other option I have, would be to voluntarily retire my license. Either way, the action would be permanent. Of course, if I had no intention of working again, it would probably look better on paper if I just retired my license.

But, here’s the deal, if I retire my license or let it lapse out, and then sometime down the road I decide I want to practice RT again, I would have to re-apply for a new license all over again from scratch. That means proving that I graduated from an accredited RT school and taking all the entrance exams over again, getting a background check and fingerprinted. Im not sure Id want to go through all that again. And how on earth would I be healthy enough to work full time again? Well, there’s a chance ( albeit very small) ,that I might actually get a new set of lungs sometime in the future ( ie transplant). If that were to occur before I reach the age of 65, I might be healthy enough to work full time again, in which case, my RCP license would come in pretty handy. But again, that’s a very small if.

* For all you non-RTs out there, it’s important to note that while I don’t have an active license to practice Respiratory care in the State of California, I’m still Registered with the NBRC as an RRT ( Registered Respiratory Therapist.) Those credentials have nothing to do with state licensure and can never be taken away from me.

So, what would you do if you were in my shoes?

(My RCP and NBRC Credentials)

RCP Credentials 1
This is my very first license to practice Respiratory care. In 1985, the State of California became one of the first states in the USA to required that all Respiratory Care Practitioners be licensed in order to legally practice.
Original RCP license

Here’s something funny; I got my first job as an RT in 1977. My salary at that time was $4.62 per hr. That same position, as of 6/2009, pays 10 times that amount.

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  1. GayleMyrna says:

    On a much more minor note, I was briefly a member of the Screen Actors Guild (I did a lot of movie extra work in the 1990s before my lungs got to their current crappy level). So though I was no longer in the field, I kept paying the $100 or so per year for my membership. Finally, due to economic hardship, I stopped paying the fee and took an honorary withdrawal (I think I could pick it up again if I wanted to start paying again or something to that effect). The reality is that my body can no longer handle that type of work which often involves very unpredictable environmental conditions, extreme heat or cold, being able to move quickly or even running on occasions. But it was fun for a period of time! (During this same era I was a sub teacher in early childhood education programs and also did some music acts for children and other audiences.) So I also let lapse my early education certificates (small children are infections on two legs ) . And working with children also plunged me into environmental uncertainty, plus tons of stress. Oh, after stopping teaching, I earned a certificate in alcohol and drug counseling which I only used for two years (it was in Jan. 2003 that I got the nasty infection that set off the last six years of respiratory challenges). So I leave behind a trail of un-renewed certificates, etc. Bottom line, my job these days is to stay healthy. I'm sure whatever decision you make regarding your RCP license will be well-thought out. One thing your RT background gives you is an incredible knowledge base and perspective as both a patient and a health care professional.
    Anyhow, keep on keeping on!

    • WOW, you have tons of certifications to worry about, I'm guess I'm lucky that I only have one.

      I don't know why I stress over this, because the reality is, even if I had a current license, I wouldn't get a lot of job offers because I haven't worked in 4 years. Id pretty much have to start out from scratch anyway. Then again, it's not what you know, it's who you know.

  2. deAnna says:

    That is a pretty hard choice. I am going through the same thing with my teaching license. I no longer live in the state where my license is active. My husband is military and we move every 3 years. You go through the same thing with testing and fingerprints and the such. Plus they are just so expensive. It sounds like you have thought about this quite a bit. If you really wanted to practice again, it sounds like you could go through the pain of getting your credentials back. So all is not truly lost. No one can ever take your education or experience away.

  3. Danielle says:

    Hmmmm, well from the young thing who has earned exactly zero professional certificates, I'd imagine it would be very hard to let go. And now that you've got this hope of being able to work again (no matter how small) I can see why it would be even harder. Being an RT is a part of you, I think, and it's ok to want to hold onto it.
    Ultimately it's up to you of course and I know you'll make the right decision. But it's a tough call. Do you get any other benefits from keeping your license, such as access to journals and publications or professional development opportunities?

  4. heidi says:

    Even if you couldn't do hospital work there might be a teaching job you could do later??? Right? So I would think you'd need to be licensed to do something that wouldn't require as much "energy" through out the day.

  5. Susannah Hunt says:

    I had to let my very hard earned Public Examining qualification lapse in July 2007, I couldn't cope with the overnighters to strange locations, hotels, dusty, cold church halls. I am still listed as an Associated Board Examiner and am entitled to go to all their functions, dinners conferences etc, and still have my Examiner's number (A132), but I am not listed as a current Examiner. If I want to redo my training and become active again, all I have to do is pick up the phone and tell them, they will give me full professional and disability support. But I'd need some lung miracle like you, first!

    I know this doesn't help you in your RT situation. But when I was selected from thousands to even do the training for the practical musical exams, a worldwide system, I was so honoured…..and then I got picked to become a real examiner…..big achievement…… It did break my heart to realise my health was taking this away from me.

    As you know, I do still struggle to teach, albeit p/t, but 3 long days! And I am fighting the gremlins again as to just how long I can keep this game up for…..

    Good Luck, head not heart in this one was my only way…..

    Sus xx

  6. Amy says:

    I dunno, I think I might renew b/c of Heidi's comment–if there were anything part-time you could do in the future, like teaching, it would be better to have the license, right?

    And what's this about a transplant? Any more news to share on that?

    • Hi Amy, Thanks for the comment. Im leaning toward keeping my license, mainly because it will force me to stay in the RT loop.

      Haven't made up my mind yet on the transplant option. Im not sure I wanna go through all that. Even with my crappy lungs, Im still way too healthy at the present time to even be considered a candidate. If offered new lungs right now, Id probably say no. That could all change a year from now, who knows.

  7. clare b says:

    Hi Stephen, I am facing exactly the same decision, albeit for slightly different reasons and goals. I now wish I had kept my license, but I do think your choice is not like mine. The one idea above was would you consider teaching? I was an RRT for 22 years. I developed carpal tunnel syndrome and burnout, pretty much simultaneously. I was already training for a different kind of work, so I decided to stop being an RT. When it came around to paying the fees and getting the CEUs (in both fields for that matter), I decided to give up the RCP license; that was 5 years ago. It was probably a bit arrogant to do so. In light of my current situation, unwise at least. I am finding it hard to stay employed and thinking it would be good to do respiratory again, even if it is in homecare . . . but I wonder what all is involved. You mentioned entry exams and I am not sure what you mean. If money had not been an issue, I would have kept up the license. Now money is an issue again and I am wondering if working again is even possible. I wish you well with your decision, and if you are leaning towards keeping it, I would say, do just that. Cheers, Clare B.

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