For the Newbie: Practice
This is part two in the "For the Newbie" series. View part one here.
Entering the field of sleep medicine can be daunting and intense or it can be fun and fascinating. Most of the time it is all of those combined! With this in mind, I’ve started a new series called “For the Newbie,” aimed at providing tricks of the trade for a new technician, or “newbie.” The objective of this series is to help trainees adapt to the sleep field and to remind their trainers what it was like to go through the process from a mindset, practice and routine standpoint.
In my last “For the Newbie" article, I talked about the newbie technician’s mindset and how it is important to keep a positive frame of mind as you begin your journey as a sleep professional. In part two, I am going to talk about practice.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect,” right? This applies to the new sleep technician as well. Let’s take a closer look at some areas where practice will benefit you the most.
To keep it simple, there are two types of paperwork that are required ― referral or clinic notes/sleep questionnaires (these inform you of the patient’s medical and sleep-specific history) and consent forms (these are what the patient signs acknowledging HIPAA privacy, billing and registration). Reviewing the paperwork before the patient’s arrival will give you a picture of their concerns, needs and conditions. Patient paperwork can be confusing, but every organization and sleep facility has their own version of similar paperwork. The more often you process paperwork, the more familiar it will become to you.
Familiarize yourself with the forms and what you need to document versus what the patient needs to complete and/or sign. The objective is to process the paperwork until it becomes second nature. When you begin your shift, you will be able to complete the paperwork quickly so you can get right to your setup. Pay attention to details and avoid careless oversights like neglecting to get the patient’s consent to perform the study.
Take for example the 10-20 system. Try to find a mannequin head to practice your marks and measurements. (If you can’t locate a mannequin head, maybe a bald friend or coworker will let you practice on them!)
Another dilemma many technicians face, newbies and veterans alike, is time management. This is often due to the difficulty of working and talking at the same time while setting up the sleep study. The objective is to repeat the setup process until it becomes second nature. As you work more and more with patients, you will be able to manage the setup as you talk to them, decreasing the time it takes to get it all done!
Remember this phrase and take it to heart, “If you didn’t document, it didn’t happen.” This statement may seem trite, but I assure you it is a very serious reality. Documentation is critical in health care. It can save you when an irate manager or physician asks you what happened during a specific study and can also help the next technician that cares for your patient. Proper documentation can be crucial to your organization for billing and risk management as well.
It is often said “There is no such thing as too much documentation.” As you begin your career, practice your documentation so it too becomes second nature. The objective is to document as much as possible. As you chart on your patients, work diligently to provide the most accurate information.
As you practice processing paperwork, the setup and documentation, you will likely have questions. The AAST website provides guidelines to assist you but don’t be afraid to ask your trainer for help or clarification! It is important for trainers to provide the proper support and encouragement to new technicians as they practice so that they can improve their confidence, efficiency and abilities as new sleep professionals.
In the next “For the Newbie,” I’ll talk about the purpose and importance of routine as one continues their journey toward becoming a sleep technologist. In the meantime, please feel free to send me your thoughts, comments and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “For the Newbie” in the subject line and I will respond as quickly as possible.
About Geoff Eade, RPSGT, CCSH
Geoff Eade, RPSGT, CCSH, has been in the sleep field for 13 years. He received his training through the A-STEP pathway and is now the clinical lead technologist of a four-bed sleep center, the current president of the Mississippi Sleep Society, a sleep consultant and serves on the AAST Standards and Guidelines Committee. He lives in Brandon, Mississippi, and is enrolled at Jackson State University for his bachelor’s degree in health care administration.