Sleep Credentials: The Infighting Continues
In sleep there seems to be a lot of infighting over control of who will provide credentials for the technicians. With such a young field this does not help out professionalism and it makes our field look undervalued. The latest group to get involved is the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). They have decided that since the Board of Registered Polysomnographers could not create a test with a high enough pass rate, they should take over the testing of sleep technicians.
This is the group that created the A-Step program, an online educational program for people who have come into the field through on-the-job training. It consists of 18 units that cover the basics of polysomnography. It is not a complete education but in conjunction with a good on-the-job training program it can give people the starting point to become excellent and well=educated sleep technicians.
The reason they feel that they needed to take this step was due to the low pass rate of the BRPT exams. As a manager of a lab with several technicians who work hard, have done the A-Steps and have failed the test, I can tell you it can be frustrating. I personally took the test myself and passed it but I believe my background in respiratory therapy assisted me because I have a background in understanding the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. I did think that some of the questions about such issues as pen deflection and the old paper sleep systems were not as useful as asking me questions about computer-based systems.
What will this mean for the field is unclear. Which tests will end up on top? Will being an RPSGT mean anything? Will all of us be required to take additional tests? Will the NBRC see this as a way to push their credentialing test forward and reopen the discussion about licensure? All these are unanswered questions while people sitting in an office make decisions that effect our field.