ASET Has a Plan for Sleep Techs
I 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.