Is The Professional Sleep Community Represented Fairly?

In the last several weeks there seems to be a lot of buzz surrounding the AASM/ABSM’s announcement that they will be developing and administering a new credentialing exam for professional sleep techs sometime later this year.

As we are all trying to understand the reasoning behind this “surprising” pathway, we are being told by the AASM/ABSM that their reasons for adding a fourth sleep credential include low pass rates with the existing RPSGT exam and complaints from sleep center/lab physicians that the new crop of RPSGT’s do not have the skills needed to meet the labs needs regarding patient care and professional processes.

Now I know that I am just a mere educator and simply hold multiple credentials in a variety of related professions, which includes being a proud registered sleep tech for about 15 years, so maybe I am not smart enough to understand this reasoning by the AASM/ABSM. But what stands out in my mind is where is the representation I have always paid for, and expected, from the AAST?

After finding out about this new credential pathway I did some of my own investigation to try and find the answers to some questions that my elected AAST leadership has yet to answer. I called numerous sleep centers accross the country and spoke with many center/lab physicians and techs and without failure each and every one of them had “no such complaints” as explained to us by the AASM/ABSM. Maybe I just did not ask the right people, after all I am “only” a sleep tech and educator.

Now I admit that I have limited resources and time and could not possibly contact everyone to ask their opinion. So I asked myself who could do this for me, for us. Who has the resources to contact some 17,000 RPSGT’s and thousands of accredited sleep facilities and physicans to ask the same questions that I asked when I contacted just a few dozen. 

From what I am reading in the blogs, and Facebook, and other cyber space sites is that many of you are asking the same question and most of you are coming to the same conclusion: the AAST, the AASM, and the ABSM. After all, isnt this why we have paid year after year of membership fees, supported annual meetings, and donated our time to further the cause of sleep professionalism. My expectation, maybe your expectation as well, was that my membership dollars and my donated time was not only to futher the cause of sleep professionalism but was to also protect my credential. Doing both would protect my livelihood as well.

As I said in the beginning of this rant, maybe I am just not smart enough to understand where my representatives have been on this matter, much less where they stand today. I also dont understand why nobody asked me my opinion about any of this over the last several years. And the same concern was expressed to me when I called upon the physicans and techs that I have spoken with over the last week or so.

The actions taken by the AASM/ABSM/AAST may be based on valid reasoning and concerns. I have no way of knowing one way or the other. So far they have only told us what they want us to know and have not released any valid data to support their decision. However what I do know is that the actions, or lack of action, by all three entities have thrown this profession into chaos. And the statement by the AASM/ABSM that I will be able to “grandfather my RPSGT” to their new credential means that at some near point in time my RPSGT credential will be worthless.

Its important to also remember that many of our representatives in these organizations are volunteers. They too have donated massive amount of their personal time and energies to support our profession. But it is also important to understand that their are also many “paid” representatives and staff that depend on the survival, and expansion, of these organizations for their income and in some cases, their positions of power and authority.

How each of you react to this chaos that was thrown upon us is a personal decision. I have read and heard that many or you are cancelling memberships and others are cancelling plans to attend the national meeting and opting instead to pay their dollars to state and regional meetings. Still others are taking the “wait and see” approach to see where the AAST  “publically” stands when they eventually do take a stand either way for the development and testing of the new credential.

Whatever action you take or dont take I suggest that you stay informed and do your homework. Talk to each other, send emails to your elected industry and organization representatives. Make an informed decision on what action you take as an individual. For me, its pretty simple personal decision; since I am not smart enough to be asked my opinion I will be attending the Southern Sleep Meeting in New Orleans where I can be with other RPSGT’s who may actually think that I have something of value to say.

Joseph Anderson, RPSGT, RPFT, CRT-NPS, RCP

Alan Hickey

Alan Hickey

Publisher of Sleep Diagnosis and Therapy Journal the Official publication of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, the Journal is a clinical and technical publication for dental and medical professionals.

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