Recent research has shown the vital role that sleep plays in our overall well-being. What was once relegated to a special research field, sleep is being shown to have major influences on our bodies. Cardio-pulmonary malfunctions and personality disorders are amoung the many life-threatening problems that are being traced back to poor sleep. Major railway, shipping and airline disasters have been directly attributed to sleep disorders. The Department of Transportation has speculated that a large number of traffic accidents can be attributed to drowsy drivers. Insurance carriers are beginning to recognize the staggering costs associated with poor sleep.
Back in the days of old we were taught that in order to become proficient in a field one must specialize. We were instructed in very precise terms to perform certain tasks to the exclusion of others. The results of this type of specialization may have worked well, but that was when healthcare wasn’t under the influence of the corporate world. Recent developments in healthcare management have left practitioners scrambling to keep their positions. Corporate influences have led to professionals assuming more and more responsibilities while trying to reduce costs. In recent days, the need to be trained in multiple positions has replaced the need to specialize.
Even while some fields are being cutback, or reassigned, the rapidly expanding field of sleep medicine has begun to feel the pinch of an understaffed industry. The need for better and more highly trained staff is on the minds of healthcare managers. There are less than three thousand registered technologists currently available to serve the projected sixty million sufferers of sleep disorders. New labs are opening almost daily within hospitals and free-standing clinics around the world and managers are recognizing the need to have multi-talented, flexible and highly trained staff to perform the myriad of jobs represented within these centers.
Polysomnographic technologists, or sleep tech’s, are finding that they have to be proficient in respiratory medicine, neuro-diagnostics and psychology. This unique field has the awesome chore of being proficient in the entire spectrum of medicine. PSG tech’s are required to gather and analyze data consisting of respiratory functions, neuronal and muscle activity. A thorough understanding of all these activities is needed to recognize the origins of sleep disorders. Without a grasp of the overall picture, diagnosis would be incomplete at best.
Many of today’s technologists have come from the respiratory and electroencephalographic departments. Both field’s have produced exceptional technologists. Sleep medicine requires that the technologist have a thorough understanding of both fields in order to function properly.
Crosstraining from respiratory or EEG to sleep medicine is only a natural progression of one’s skills. Management recognizes that it makes sense to add skills to those already posessed and move qualified persons into positions that use those skills. By doing so, healthcare managers solve multiple problems with one action. They can fulfill the growing need for qualified technologists while solving the problem of reducing expenses in other departments.
For the skilled respiratory therapist or EEG tech, sleep medicine is a matter of additional education. The knowledge that is already ingrained provides a solid foundation for further studies. And in today’s corporate climate, it also provides for a secure future!