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Adventures in Sleep

ASET Has a Plan for Sleep Techs

Published August 23, 2012 1:59 PM by Amy Reavis
Amy Korn Reavis, RPSGTI had the opportunity to attend the ASET conference recently and hear an idea they had on how to bring sleep back into their fold. Since we, as sleep techs, are concerned about the future of our profession, it might be of benefit to take a listen to their idea.

There is a large need in the field of long-term monitoring. Although sleep techs do not know everything about EEG and LTM, we have a basis to which we could add additional skills. That field is growing and since many sleep techs are night owls already, we would be able to work the night shift jobs that they are having troubles filling. 

This idea has some good aspects, but there are certain things that about us as sleep techs that I believe our neurodiagnostic cousins do not understand. Moving from sleep to neurodiagnostic would take more than just training; it would also require a change in mindset.

We approach the job with a different attitude: We believe in education and treatment. They are purely a diagnostic field, where you perform the test to the best of your ability and the physician educates and treats the patient. Although sleep techs perform a diagnostic test, we are used to communicating and educating patients about sleep disorders and treating them when needed. We enjoy the interaction with the patient and feel we are helping to change a person's life. 

There is also a lack of communication about what sleep techs would need to do and learn in order to perform this job. There are many techs who would be willing to get more training but there is not a great deal of information about what opportunities there are or the continuing education needed. 

There were very few practicing sleep techs at this conference. Most were EEG techs who had sat for the sleep boards but stayed in the neuro testing field. At some point, maybe we need to create a way to work together to help ensure the future of both fields and keep everyone employed. 

Sleep has some strong aspects that the Neuro can learn from us such as communication and embracing the changes that come as the field grows. 

We could learn a great deal from them as well. They are very well-organized, supportive of the field and proud of their profession in a way that sleep techs are not. This is evident by our infighting in our field. They do not have these issues. They support all the aspects of the field and embrace the differences as well as the similarities.

They also understand that licensure may be a good thing for the techs and not something to be feared and dreaded. They see it as assurance that their profession has security and is seen as professionals. They are looking to the future not just the present.

We have a great deal to share between the fields and maybe we need to open better lines of communication between the two professions to help support and grow as one strong field.


Too much emphasis on stages of sleep and EEG?  I am puzzled that you can view it like that.  As a sleep tech there is a lot of importance to what the EEG tells us.  Such as, whether the patient is asleep or awake.  How can you properly diagnose sleep apnea if the patient is appearing to have central events and you arent sure if they are asleep or awake?  A patient could be awake and holding their breath and it will look like a central apnea, should these patients be treated with CPAP? I have been a sleep tech for over 8 years now and I have seen many snore mics that appear to be picking up snores when nothing is heard or its just deep breathing, so again just a snore mic is unreliable.  And its not true that patients with OSA will have it in every sleep stage because I see many patients who will only have apneas in REM and many times patients will never have apneas in a stage 3 sleep.  There are also medications that can have an effect on patients sleep staging which causes them to be tired during the day without OSA present.  These are all reasons that a proper EEG needs to be done to determine a patients cause of EDS.  This is why I feel that sleep and RT are two entirely different areas and should be treated as such.  RTs who have not studied sleep dont understand the importance of a full sleep study.  Granted as an RT you can treat OSA but a patient has to be determined to have OSA before it can be treated and that is what we do as sleep techs.  Over the years I have crossed many situations that if not for all channels being monitored patients who dont have OSA would be treated with CPAP and vice versa patients with OSA would go untreated.

Peggy August 29, 2012 4:52 AM

In responce to the above debate. I have seen both sides of the issue. Having worked for years in sleep and RT I have seen the positives and negitives of EEG to RPSGT without RT education background. I think there should be only a competency credential to perform PSG testing for whoever works in the field. RT seem to have much more clinical ability to know when to treat sleep apnea patients. The exam for RPSGT is way to technical for what the positions actual needs,after all what are we treating EEG or sleep apnea. Most studies have revealed that OSA and the verious sleep disorder breathing occurs during sleep no matter what stage. This can be determined via pulse oximetry,snore microphone and nasal flow sensors. There is way to much emphisis placed on stages of sleep and EEG results. Basic knowledge shouds include setup ,troubleshooting lead placement, technical problems and  proper PAP treatment of patients. Many may not like hearing this but change is difficult for all of us. Just my opinion.


Pat Eickenroth, RT - RRT , Spectrum August 28, 2012 10:16 AM
Greenville MI

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    Adventures in Sleep
    Occupation: Sleep technicians
    Setting: Various sleep facilities
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