I have met many people who became interested in my chosen field. It is such a strange field to find education in and so many people do not know how to become a sleep technician. They may hear that you can just find someone who will hire and train you or you may have heard you need to take a 2 week class or you may wonder where there are schools so you can get your degree. Well all of them are right and all of them are incomplete. So let’s look at what it takes to get into the field
The first thing you need to look at is what the job entails. If you do not think you can perform the job than you might not want to go into the field. Most of the jobs are night shift jobs and many people have to work on weekends. This is part of being in healthcare and is common in many fields. You need to be able to work alone and make decisions within posted guidelines. Many technicians work alone as many of the labs are small. You can have anywhere from 1 to 3 patients during the night. You will make decisions during the night on whether to start therapy or change the level of therapy so you have to know how to make decisions. You have to be detailed oriented. The doctor will need to know why you made your decisions. You will also need to perform a study that is clean and easy to read. Not making corrections could lead to the patient returning and an upset doctor.
Where do I get my education? Well the field is in transition. College programs are being developed around the country for sleep techs. Some of the programs are add on programs for EEG techs or Respiratory Therapists others are stand alone programs that will allow you to be working within 1-2 years. You could sign up for one of the accredited programs through the American Academy of Sleep Medicine or the Board of Polysomnography Technologists that are generally partially online and partially classroom. These programs give you some hands on education as well as some theory and along with experience people who go through these programs can sit for both the RPSGT and RST credential. Finally you can get an on the job training job. The problem with them is that you are at the mercy of the lab to get your training and if they do not have a program set up you can learn a great many incorrect things as well as out of date information. You will still have to take an online program to sit for your board exams that should help supplement your learning.
Ultimately, with licensure coming on the job training will limit your employment possibilities. You will need to get credentials as soon as possible so you have the opportunity to be grandfathered into some of the licensures. There will still be some states that will be requiring college education so you should look at the state you live in or may want to live in before you make a decision.
If you have any questions of if you have your own experiences to share please share them below because we all can learn from each other.
In today’s job market people are looking at new careers to allow them to advance. Sleep technology is a young field that is starting to organize, become licensed, and is need of some great people. The sleep labs are need of people who are willing to go for training and learn the field of sleep and to continue to learn and grow while they are working. I will be sharing some basic knowledge of what is needed to successfully enter the field.
What skills do you need to be a successful sleep technician? The first and most important skill is to have people skills. You will not only be working with patients to set up for the test but you may also be working with other people. You have to have a sense of independence because you may be working alone on some nights and be responsible for your patients and for clinical decisions during your shift. You have to have a basic technical ability. Much of what you will be doing has a great deal to do with understanding both electrical theory and anatomy and physiology. The last skill you will need is the ability to work night shift. Most of the jobs are night shift and are 7pm to 7 am or 8pm to 6am. No matter which type of shift you work learning how to deal with the change is schedule is a large part of preparing for the field.
Where do I get education to become a sleep technician? There are a great many ways to enter the field. There are still many opportunities for on the job training in states that do not have licensing laws that prevent it. This is a good choice of the facility has a strong training program. There are also short programs called A-STEP classes these last 40 hours and will require some classroom work as well as some clinical and lab time. These classes will help to prepare you not just to work in the field but as a first step toward getting your accreditation. You can also find college programs being developed throughout the country. Some programs are at private college with an Associate’s degree in Neurodiagnostics and some are add on certificates to programs such as Respiratory Therapy.
Where do I find employment opportunities? There are jobs in the field of sleep throughout the country. You may be working in one of three types of facility, hospital based labs, doctor practice labs or independent diagnostic testing facilities. All of these facilities have their benefits and their drawbacks. The best thing you can do is explore your opportunities as they become available.
Will there be any required testing or licensing as a technician? This is a very young profession and as such licensing is just starting to happen. You will check your state to find out if you will need a license to work. You will also need to consider getting your sleep credentials as states that are licensed require them. Even if you are not in a state that requires credentials you should get them because it will allow you to be eligible for more jobs and to be able to move up in the field after you have some experience. There are currently three different groups offering credentials. The NBRC, National Board of Respiratory Therapists, is the testing company for respiratory therapist and offers a specialty test for sleep technicians. The BRPT, Board of Registered Polysomnographers, is the board that gives two tests in sleep; an entry level certification test that you can take once you completed half of the online A-STEP courses and have three months of experience in sleep and the Registry exam which has different rules depending on how you entered the field. The RPSGT credential is considered the gold standard of testing currently. The final group to offer testing is the ABSM, American Board of Sleep Medicine. They will be offering a new test starting in the fall of 2011. This test was written by the physicians who are in the field of sleep. No matter which test you take credentials are a necessity if you want to advance in this field.
What does the future of sleep technology look like? The hardest question to answer is what does the future hold. There has been the introduction of many new technologies over the past ten years. These have allowed for easier testing of patients. There is also the fact that the public is just now getting educated on the issue of sleep and sleep disorders. A majority of people suffering from sleep disorders still have not been treated. This leaves the future need for sleep testing open and growing.
When looking at new career fields it is always good to find a career that will match your personality and lifestyle. Although this field may have a great deal growth potential you will not be happy unless you fit into the demands of the job. Take your time, do some research and visit a sleep lab before you make any decisions.