The American Association for Respiratory Care 2008 International Respiratory Congress concluded on Tuesday, delivering a program with plenty of traditional respiratory-related topics, a focused sleep section, and a move in advancing the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) sleep specialty exam for RTs.

Though not a sleep-focused show, sleep is a growing segment of respiratory care, as evidenced by the launch of the NBRC specialty examination for respiratory therapists performing sleep disorders testing and therapeutic intervention, which took place at the conference. According to Lori M. Tinkler, MBA, chief operating officer and associate executive director of the NBRC, about 10 people had registered for the exam as of Saturday, December 13. The goal, according to Tinkler, was to have 50 to 60 people take the exam at the conference. After the number of test takers hits that level, the NBRC can determine a final cut score and confer certification to those who achieved a passing score. The final cut score is anticipated to be determined by mid to late January 2009. After that time, she says, future test takers’ results will be provided immediately upon completion of the examination.

The conference kicked off with the plenary session, which acknowledged military service personnel, veterans, emergency response RT heroes, exemplary manufacturers, and the AARC award recipients. Sam P. Giordano, MBA, RRT, FAARC, AARC executive director, extended the inspiration from those who were acknowledged to the crowd: “As I prepared for this morning’s award ceremony,” he said, “I was struck by a quote from 19th-century British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, who said, ‘Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.’ I know he wasn’t talking specifically about our profession, but it occurred to me that he easily could have been. As health care professionals, we all have the opportunity to be heroes on some level every day. Each and every one of us can do it on the job every day simply by providing excellent patient care for our patients. We just have to believe in it to make it happen,” he said.

After the opening session, the crowd hit the show floor, featuring approximately 230 exhibitors. An abundance of activity and a steady stream of traffic filled the exhibit hall. “The highlight of the show has probably been seeing all of the new equipment and all of the new technology that are coming out, and seeing friends that I haven’t seen in 30 years,” said Mark Strausbaugh, RRT, RPSGT, program director, Respiratory Care, Elizabethtown Community & Technical College, Elizabethtown, Ky.

The bulk of the sleep sessions at the conference took place on December 14 and December 16. Among others, topics included scoring sleep studies, sleep in the ICU, CPAP reimbursement, new PAP and interface technologies, co-sleeping, home testing, and compliance. While some attendees who were interested in sleep wanted additional sleep sessions so they could fulfill more continuing education requirements, most were very satisfied with the sleep lineup. “I just started coming to the International Respiratory Congress 3 years ago, because they started including more sleep,” said Raquel Roth, CRT-NPS, Sleep Technologist/Principal & General Manager, Sleep EZ Diagnostic Center, Salem, Va. “And this year, they have improved it even more. I think this show lets you in on all of the changes that are taking place in our industry, whether it be guidelines or regulations.”

The 2009 AARC International Respiratory Congress will be held in San Antonio. More information about the 2009 conference is available here.