The AE-C: Just Another Credential, or a Key to Opening Doors?


CRT, RRT, CPFT, RPFT, NPS, ACCS, SDS . . . there are plenty of credentials to earn in the respiratory care profession itself, so why would anyone step out of their own field to earn yet another credential offered by an outside credentialing agency?

If you aspire to be an asthma educator, there is every reason. The Asthma Educator-Certified, or AE-C, credential is overseen by the National Asthma Educator Certification Board (NAECB) and is open to all currently licensed or credentialed health care professionals. Those who pass the exam and become an AE-C can market their asthma education services to a wide range of providers, including hospitals, outpatient facilities, and doctor’s offices.

If you are considering the AE-C, the AARC’s Asthma Educator Certification Preparation Course can help you succeed on the exam. It’s tailored-made for respiratory therapists seeking to take the test.

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A great first step

Samantha Davis, MsRC, RRT-NPS, AE-C, is a big believer in the power of the credential. Although she currently serves as a clinical assistant professor of respiratory care at Boise State University in Boise, ID, she says her AE-C has opened a multitude of doors.

For her, that’s meant everything from providing asthma education at health fairs, to creating asthma-related CME events for physicians, to serving on the board of directors for an asthma camp, to her recent election to the board of directors of the NAECB.

She earned the credential in 2013 when she was working in Michigan and was involved with asthma education on a variety of levels. “Due to my interest and involvement with this specific population it seemed only natural to obtain the AE-C credential,” says the AARC member.

Davis believes the credential validates the holder’s knowledge and identifies him or her as an effective provider of asthma education. “I won’t say that it makes you an expert, because it doesn’t,” emphasizes the educator. But it does serve as a great first step to greater involvement in educating asthma patients about their condition.

Knowledge already paying off

Kelly Shepard, RRT, sees incredible value in the credential as well. Although she’s been teaching pulmonary rehabilitation for 15 years now, she decided last year that it was time to earn the AE-C and has been preparing for the exam, which she will sit for this month, ever since.

“The inspiration for this was in part to better serve the customers/patients, to better serve myself through increased expertise/pay, and improve the pulmonary rehabilitation program,” says the AARC member. “While I don’t officially hold the certification yet, the knowledge gained has already served the community, the physicians, and co-workers that I’m lucky enough to work with.”

For example, she’s used her new knowledge to educate her RT coworkers at Peacehealth United General Medical Center in Sedro-Wolley, WA, about the latent effects of asthma.

“Many of the brilliant therapists that I work with weren’t aware of the inner airway swelling that comes 4-6 hours after exposure to the trigger,” says Shepard. “They knew of the initial assault/bronchospasm and how to treat that, however, not of the greater concern that it would cause an even bigger assault on pulmonary function that would be looming several hours later.”

Prepping for the AE-C allowed her to bring that knowledge to the fore – and in the process has saved many patients from wondering why they may have difficulty breathing hours after exposure to a trigger.

Incredible journey

Davis believes other therapists who work with asthma patients can gain great rewards from earning the AE-C too. “I’ve been fortunate to experience this incredible journey all related to a credential, and I can’t wait to see what happens next,” she says. “Next time you hear someone say, ‘Why bother getting _____ credential? It won’t pay off in the end!’ feel free to share my story!”

Heading to the New Era

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