8 FAQs About Continuing Education Credits (CECs)
Sleep technology is recognized as a separate and distinct allied health profession. It requires sleep technologists, like you, to engage in a number of educational efforts. Competency assessment and training by a registered and experienced technologist under a sleep medicine physician's supervision is the minimum requirement to work independently. Currently, it is recommended that all sleep technologists complete an accredited training program and attain certification. Most insurances and some states also require licensing or certification.
It's strongly recommended to advance your personal excellence by participating in continuing education every year, along with engaging in the education of technicians, other sleep technologists, and trainees. You can work to ensure ongoing competence by participating in quality assurance, self-assessment, and quality improvement initiatives of the sleep center. To maintain certification, continuing education is required. It's also required to meet accreditation requirements of the sleep center and, in some states, is required for licensing.
Because of this, it's essential for you to stay educated within the field. The sleep medicine industry is also growing rapidly, and as a result, there is a higher demand for certified sleep technologists to stay updated in their field of expertise.
With that said, here are eight frequently asked questions and their answers about continuing education credits for sleep technologists.
Get access to discounted CECs, industry education, and networking events when you join the AAST!
1. What are CECs?
A continuing education credit, or CEC, is a unit that corresponds to actual contact hours, equivalent to time spent in hours devoted to maintaining education and knowledge in a respective field. Units are acceptable if the activity has been granted hours by a credit-granting organization.
2. Why should I care about earning CECs?
Continuing education is important for all sleep professionals, registered polysomnographic technologists (RPSGTs) and registered sleep technologists (RSTs), and for licensing. Sleep technologists also need continuing education for sleep center accreditation.
Your certification in sleep technology lasts for five years. After these five years, you have to re-certify to maintain your credential. You can do this by earning and accumulating 50 continuing education credits over five years, or by retaking and passing the RPSGT or RST exam.
If you're already a certified sleep technologist, CECs help you to hone your skills and continue your education so you can offer only the best care possible for your patients and assist them in developing and sharpening their sleep disorders management skills.
Leading certification organizations provide CECs to award sleep technologists with credits for finishing educational activities that are a high standard of excellence.
Almost every accrediting organization will tell you that your best option to maintain your credential as a sleep technologist is to earn CECs. This lets you earn and accrue credits over time as you learn and develop your skills gradually and at a pace that's comfortable for you. You're also able to stay on top of new developments and changes in your profession.
3. How many CECs do I need?
There are certain standards you have to meet to keep your certification. On average, you will need to earn 50 CECs every 5 years, or you'll have to retake your certification exam.
4. How do I earn CECs?
There are a number of ways you can earn your CECs. These include:
Joining an Organization
As a member of the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), you gain access to 32 free CECs each year as part of your membership.
Online Learning Modules
These modules typically come in the form of reading or watching a video on a specific topic. You're able to watch streaming presentations on topics related to sleep technology that you can access anytime, anywhere. When it comes to AAST online learning modules, once you complete the module and take a short test, you earn AAST CECs.
Subscribe to Sleep Medicine Journals
Subscribing to sleep medicine magazines and journals can help you earn CECs. AAST members can earn two credits per issue by reading AAST's quarterly publication, A2Zzz. It's an easy way for AAST members to read valuable content, take short tests, and earn 8 CECs each year.
Attend Conferences, Meetings, Workshops, and Events
Each year, there are a number of gatherings like these that aim to promote information and news in sleep medicine and technology. Many organizations at the state, regional, national, and local level host these types of events and offer CECs.
Trainings are similar to online learning modules in that you can earn CECs as well as learn valuable skills with each training.
5. How long does it take to earn a CEC?
This depends on how you are earning your CECs. As a member of AAST, you can earn up to 32 CECs a year. By taking a test after completing an online training module, you can earn one CEC. There are different ways to earn CECs, and the number of CECs earned are based on the amount of time spent completing the activity.
6. How much do CECs cost?
If you're not a member of AAST, you can pay anywhere from $40 to $45 for each CEC opportunity, meaning it could cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $2,250 every five years to keep your certification. This alone makes AAST membership a bargain.
7. What are the best ways to keep track of my CECs?
It is important to know how many CECs you already have and how many you need to get. The best ways to keep track of your CECS are to:
- Join AAST; AAST tracks this information for its members.
- Spread your CECs out and not wait until the last minute to start trying to accrue your CECs. Trying to maintain around 10 CECs each year is a good rule of thumb and will keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
- Think about your patients. Keep in mind that receiving CECs isn't just for keeping your credentials, but to also keep you a highly-trained, well-informed technologist who's capable of providing only the best quality care to their patients.
8. What happens if I don’t earn my CECs?
If you don't earn the required CECs in the 5-year period, you must re-take your certification exam.
Sleep technologists are responsible for patient comfort, care, and safety. Therefore, it's important for you as a sleep technologist to understand the patient's sleep disorder and other medical issues, including medications and new technology or treatment options.
AAST's mission is to promote sleep wellness and lead the sleep medicine and technology profession through resources, education, and advocacy. There are many benefits members enjoy with AAST including:
- Exclusive Educational Resources
- FREE Member CECs
- CECs for reading A2Zzz - The Official Publication of the AAST
- Discounts on AAST Events and Educational Products
- Standardized Education Modules
- Network with Sleep Technology Professionals
- CEC Transcripts
- Award Recognition
- CECs are beneficial for all sleep technologists, allowing them to get re-certified without having to retake the credentialing exam.
- You need 50 CECs in a 5-year period to keep your certification.
- There are a number of ways to earn free CECs.
- You can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $45 for each CEC opportunity if you're not an AAST member.
- AAST helps you keep track of your CECs.
Want to get started earning your free CECs? Become a member of AAST today!