Why I Have Four Sleep Tech Jobs
It's a case of feast or famine. In the business of sleep, it can be a great advantage to have more than one job. I currently work four jobs as a sleep technologist.I have a full time position at a hospital based lab and I also have 2 PRN jobs at private labs and one as a self-employed contractor for a private lab. Having this many jobs means that I sometimes work seven days (nights rather) a week. When this happens, I try to appreciate it and if I am feeling overworked I can take time off whenever I need to with the prn positions. Am I a workaholic? No, not really.
My reason for having so many employers is because of the sometimes unreliability in the work I do. Just because patients are scheduled for a sleep study does not mean they will show up. They cancel for many reasons including anxiety, loss of insurance, loss of income, conflicts with other obligations.
Another problem often encountered is patients who will leave early because of CPAP intolerance or anxiety. Whatever the reason, night techs are sometimes left with no patient, no work. It's like any other business, it has its busy times and its slow times. To help ease the stress of lost hours on the clock, I work other jobs to make up the difference. This also allows me to learn different software and equipment. I am always learning from co-workers and employers new ways of troubleshooting. For example, to reduce or eliminate sweat artifact a towel can be placed under the patient's head in addition to lowering room temperature, removing blankets and turning on fan.
In the hospital setting, I have the advantage of using disposable equipment so there is less risk of contamination and less time to clean. I also do not have to make beds because there is a hospital cleaning staff to do it for me. Also having a full time position allows me benefits such as health insurance and retirement plan.
In the private lab setting, I use non-disposable equipment which means more time cleaning but a bigger variety of masks for patients to choose from and improved patient compliance. In my experience, private labs are set up a little more like hotel rooms than the hospital labs. Some labs I have visited appeared very welcoming and comfortable.
Each company, whether hospital-based or private setting, has their own policies and practices. Some are large clinics with 4 or more beds. In this setting you get to work with other techs which helps the night go by faster but can also create conflict if employees are not professional and respectful to each other. In most settings, one tech works alone having one or two patients. Working alone means having to be alert and focused.
Working several jobs provides me with more financial security and valuable experience. Some weeks, I can't seem to get a day off and other weeks, it's hard to get a couple days in. Having all these positions helps me to balance and also make great connections to others in the sleep community.