It was 40 Years Ago Today . . . – Stephen Tarnoczy

Although published in 1968, the R&K manual for scoring human sleep was in the works since the APSS meetings in the earlier 1960´s. The main thrust of that committee to standardize sleep scoring seemed to fall in line with the 7th annual sleep meeting in 1967. Now, all this is done by historical perspective as, I was just a grammar school student back in that era.

Simultaneously, although completely unrelated, there was a young group of talents across the pond who spent the better part of 1967 working in a studio on a little project that became known as “Sgt. Pepper”. That summer became a turning point for music, culture, the summer of love, and we have never been the same since.

Interestingly enough, the two incidents celebrate their 40th creative anniversaries this year. Coincidence? I will let you be the judge. But make no mistake about, both events triggered waves of energy and interest that have reflected change in attitude in their respective cultural realms. And here we are, as a field in Sleep medicine, standing at the edge of a precipice, having just reached the top of the mountain, only to see a great magnificent vista before us and a new set of challenges and disciplines to conquer.

Just when you thought things could not become anymore exciting, I have no doubt that the next 18 months in our field will be the most productive and expanding in our history. Think of it as Sleep’s growth spurt: new scoring definitions, new accreditation guidelines, new educational requirements, and new qualifications for credentialing. While all of these topics are sure to make tremendous impact, it is the latter two that I will focus on in this forum.

The new educational requirements and qualifications to sit for the credentialing examination are tied together and with good reason. Back in 1996, my training consisted of watching a few videos and having a mentor for my first night and then I was on my own. My studying for passing the RPSGT exam in 1997 consisted mainly of memorizing the Butkov Atlas’.

Having created a variety of college, web-based, and now A-STEP accredited programs over the past 10 years, I am excited to see the field now make a push for more comprehensive and accredited training. This long overdue requirement now gives more clout to the profession and assures that the highest quality technicians, and ultimately technologists, are representing our field and giving outstanding levels of competent care to their patients.

Last year, the AASM created the A-STEP program to “bridge the gap” and get the ball rolling. With the changes in the BRPT requirements to sit for the exam (starting in July 2008), it now forces candidates to give proof of competency and quality education in their field of study. Having been a professional educator for over 15 years, education is and should be a life long process rightfully so in all aspects of medicine (especially one that is advancing its technologies as quickly as ours).

The BRPT and the AASM are working together to advance the educational threshold and will continue to ‘raise the bar’ for eligibility by requiring 2010 exam candidates to have completed both the online modules and didactic portions of A-STEP. In 2012, the ultimate goal will now be completion of a CAAHEP accredited PSG program. Following the pathways that advanced the CEC requirements for all existing credential holders, this will assure the competence and professionalism in our field and solidify the credential as being more than adequate to represent the sleep technologist’s community. It would be ludicrous to institute a competing credential at this time.

The challenge now is for educational facilities to ‘step up to the plate’ and not be afraid to face the fastball and hit a home run. While similarly accrediting your sleep center can be strenuous and increase workload at the outset, it (educational accreditation) is a necessary component to assure the survival and growth of our field and carry us onward.

The challenge now is for educational facilities to ‘step up to the plate’ and not be afraid to face the fastball and hit a home run. While similarly accrediting your sleep center can be strenuous and increase workload at the outset, it (educational accreditation) is a necessary component to assure the survival and growth of our field and carry us onward.

Stephen Tarnoczy BS, RRT, RPSGT
About the author: Stephen is the clinical educator of SLEEPTECH, LLC and program director for the REST™ School of Sleep medicine. A former professor of both Respiratory Care and Polysomnography at Quinnipiac University, he has 15+ years of teaching experience and serves on the AAST Program committee as well as other local advisory boards.

Related Posts