Changing Individual Scope of Practice

Changing Individual Scope of Practice

The area of practice that an RT regularly works in is considered his/ her “individual scope of practice”. It is essential that each RT ensure they are clinically competent to perform their duties within this scope safely and effectively. Advances in medicine and changing roles within the workplace require RTs to continually upgrade their knowledge and clinical skills. For example, the acuity level of patients/clients in the hospital setting is rising and this is creating a need for more advance levels of expertise in emergency and critical care. Moreover, all of this is occurring within the framework of increasing financial restraints for healthcare organizations. This makes it essential for Respiratory Therapists to not only embrace the on-going evolution of their own practice but to actively take a leadership role in promoting change within the profession as a whole.

An RT who has worked for many years exclusively in a diagnostic lab setting is being told by their employer that they will be redeployed to the ICU due to the pandemic. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that the RT is competent to assume this added responsibility?

The ethical principles involved include the practitioner’s need to do good and to avoid doing harm.

There is a shared accountability between the employer and the RT to ensure competency. Although there is an expectation that the employer provide education to obtain and maintain RT competency, it is ultimately the RT’s responsibility to be competent to perform whatever tasks are required.

For more information, please see the CRTO Position Statement on Scope of Practice & Maintenance of Competency at: