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Author Q&A: The Comprehensive Respiratory Therapist Exam Review

With the new 7th edition of The Comprehensive Respiratory Therapist’s Exam Review, students can have a realistic National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam experience to help eliminate exam day surprises. With study hints, in-depth content review, and self-assessment questions, students can retain more information with this updated edition.

In this Q&A, author James R. Sills, MEd, RRT, CPFT shares his insights into how this latest edition will fully prepare students to pass the respiratory therapist exam.


What are some of the ways this book helps prepare students for the new versions of the NBRC exams?

This 7th edition presents every item listed by the NBRC as testable on the Therapist Multiple Choice Exam (TMC) and Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE).  By understanding this content, the examinee will be prepared for every possible question.  The Exam Hints call attention to commonly questioned topics.  All questions and clinical simulations have rationales to help the user understand the correct and incorrect answers.  Elsevier Evolve resources also provide TMC and CSE practice exams to help students prepare for the actual NBRC exam experiences.

What changes do you think are the book’s most vital updates for the NBRC exams?

There are three main changes that are worth noting for the new edition:

  1. Four new clinical simulation scenarios have been included. This necessitated that four previously tested clinical simulations be retired.  My practice clinical simulations match these NBRC revisions.
  2. The NBRC will now be  including questions about ethical patient care.  I have added this topic to several chapters.  Ethical care questions are now included in end of chapter questions and my practice TMC exams.
  3. The NBRC will now have a new type of question called the Option Table. This is presented in the Introduction for NBRC examination success. Examples of Option Table questions are now included in the end of chapter questions and my TMC practice exams.

How did changes to the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) change your approach to this edition?

The NBRC revised the mix of 20 tested patient care scenarios on the Clinical Simulation Exam.  Four now obsolete scenarios were retired.  They were replaced by scenarios covering the new tested content: adult with asthma, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), and newborn Delivery Room resuscitation.  I wrote  practice clinical simulations to match these new topic areas and retired the obsolete ones.

How can students benefit from the integration of e-products with the book content?

The practice TMC and CSE exams can only be taken through the Elsevier Evolve resource. Through the online resources, students can download and print out three essential documents:

  1. A list of the most common normal laboratory values
  2. A list of all of the Exam Hints in the book

How do clinical simulations in this book challenge students to use critical thinking?

The clinical simulations are written to follow the processes involved in actual patient care.  First, there is general information about a patient to evaluate.  Next, the student must decide what additional information to gather.  The new information must be interpreted.  After that, a decision must be made about the best action to take in caring for the patient.  The cycle continues with analyzing the patient’s response to care, gathering more information, and making new patient care decisions.  Critical thinking in patient care involves gathering the pertinent information, interpreting the results, and the making the correct care decisions.

How will the updates to the NBRC exams benefit students as they start their careers in respiratory care?

Every five years the NBRC surveys respiratory therapists, respiratory care educators, physicians, and hospitals about the clinical activities of current practitioners.  This data is used to determine all of the items that are listed on the NBRC Detailed Content Outline for the exams.  Studying for and passing the NBRC exams indicates that the student/graduate is up to date with current practice.

What else can students do to prepare themselves for the TMC and CSE exams?

Prepare for the NBRC exams by studying this book!  All testable items are presented. Take the two practice TMC exams included on the book’s website.  Also, take the TMC practice exams offered by the NBRC.

Students can prepare for the CSE by caring for the types of patients listed in Table 3 of the Introduction for NBRC Success. Study the diseases and conditions listed and study how these types of patients are treated.  Take the 22 clinical simulations included on the Evolve website—they match the mix of patients tested on the actual CSE.  Also, take the NBRC’s practice CSE’s.