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Tennessee Regulations on Becoming a Respiratory Therapist

Tennessee is known as The Volunteer State. They earned this distinction during the Mexican War sand the War of 1812 when they reportedly had more volunteers than anywhere else. That says something about the kind of people who live in Tennessee, the kind who pitch in and help when needed. People of this ilk will do well in service industry jobs like being a respiratory therapist.

The Tennessee regulations on becoming a respiratory therapist are no more or less difficult to comply with than in any other state. The important thing to remember is just to complete all the steps and to comply with any regulations regarding renewal of your license once you have it.

The Application Process

The Tennessee Board of Respiratory Care, Division of Health Related Boards has a strict application process. To become a respiratory therapist in Tennessee, the applicant must request the latest application packet. All questions must be answered truthfully and the application along with any fees must be returned to the board. Fees may include the non-refundable application fee, the state regulatory fee and if applicable, the reciprocity or testing fee. Applications may be submitted at any time throughout the year but any documentation requested in support of the application must be submitted within 60 days of the date of the application. The applicant must attest on his application that he is at least 18 years of age. He must provide a passport style photograph taken not more than 12 months prior to the application date. The entire process, assuming all appropriate documentation is provided at the time of application, should take approximately six weeks.


Applicants are required to disclose any of the following about themselves at the time of the application:

  • Conviction of any criminal law of any country, state or municipality , except for minor traffic violations
  • The denial of licensure or the discipline of licensure by any other state
  • Loss or restriction of licensure by this or any other state
  • Any civil suit judgment or any civil suit settlement in which the applicant was a party defendant in cases involving malpractice, breach of contract, antitrust or other civil action remedies
  • Any known investigations into licensure of the applicant by any state

Applicants must also disclose if they hold or have held license in any other state and provide proof of same. All applications must be signed, sworn to and notarized.

Additional Regulations

In addition to any of the preceding regulations, registered respiratory therapists must also submit proof of completion of academic and clinical preparation in a respiratory care program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in collaboration with the Committee for Accreditation on Respiratory Care (Co.A.R.C.) or their successor organizations. Proof of completion in the form of certification, diploma or final transcripts must be sent by the school directly to the board and not come from the applicant. The applicant must also request that the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) send proof of the acceptable complete of its entry-level exam be sent to the board.

Renewal of License

Maintaining one's license in good standing is required by law. It must be renewed every two years. In addition to completing the forms and paying the renewal fee, applicants must show that have completed 10 hours of continuing education each year. At least five hours be in respiratory care, education or research of the cardio-pulmonary system. The other five hours must be in either management of practicing respiratory care, ethics or substance abuse.