What a Year
As a respiratory therapist and as a sleep tech, I do not think I have ever seen a year with as many changes as this year has brought us.
We started the year on the right note. We knew that competitive bid was coming. Then came the issue of home sleep studies. Following closely on its heals was licensure and respiratory credentials for sleep technicians. And just when you thought we had enough curve balls to handle, the economy tanked and people could no longer afford their co-pays or lost their jobs and their insurance.
I have had many friends and know several labs that were affected by all this change. It is a lot to take in. Many people I know have ignored it or believe that it will not affect them.
As a whole, sleep does not have a strong advocacy group. We have the AAST but many people do not belong. We also have a large group of respiratory therapists who belong to the AARC, which has a much stronger voice.
You do not see state associations in and very few regional ones. I know living in Florida there are two regional associations but then it seems they are competing with each other for members.
We do have some great highlights though. We have several professional magazines, one really phenomenal message board, binarysleep.com, many people who are creating CEU and college programs to teach sleep in a formal setting, and many truly dynamic people who are bringing our profession to a whole new level.
I remember when respiratory was going through the same issues. There were many people who were trained via on the job training; we had credentials but we were not licensed. Those of us who got our AAS degrees were asked why. Why take the RRT? Why worry when we are needed?
I believed in the field of respiratory and was very passionate about it. And I encouraged people to get their credentials because eventually we would be licensed. When that day came, I lost several co-workers because they refused to take the test. I remember all of this and I see history repeating itself.
This is why I know that sleep will do well. Because history shows that these young medical fields are important and that as we grow and change we not only survive but thrive.
I challenge every tech out there to do something great for our field this year. If we work together, publish papers, create state societies, or help new technicians, we will be a strong and healthy profession.