Planning a Sleep Course? Behind the Scenes with Allen Boone
Planning a sleep course? Read our Q+A with Allen Boone
Allen Boone, an AAST member for 23 years and the current Director-at-Large and board liaison to the AAST Program Committee sat down with us to talk about what it takes to prepare for the biggest sleep technologist event of the year: The AAST Annual Meeting.
Q: Allen, please walk me through your involvement with the AAST since you’ve joined.
A: My participation in the AAST started in 1987 when I started out as a sleep technologist. I wanted to advance myself and get my registry in the process, and the AAST was the avenue to that especially in terms of getting my educational materials. Back then, the BRPT was a committee of the AAST (then called the APT) and so it was a one stop shop. I could get my materials, learn and get my credential from there. So I’ve worked my way through the system, earned my credential and became a board examination part 3 examiner (practical exam) many years ago. I had not really been involved in volunteering for the association since the early 2000s and when I decided to become more involved again I was assigned to the program committee as a committee member. Now I am the board liaison to that committee.
When I became involved again, the company I was with offered me the ability to network with physicians, sleep lab managers and sleep technologists across the country. When I became involved with the program committee itself in 2006, I was able to network with people and draw them into a different side of the organization. The program committee is involved with planning of the major AAST educational opportunities that provide technologists continuing education credits (CECs). It’s fair to say that I have been really involved with the AAST to this day since.
The AAST has really grown a lot from when it started. We used to have to call on volunteers all the time to provide speakers for courses and now we have a systematic approach to recruiting speakers for our sleep technologist courses. We now perform an education needs assessment to determine the latest, hottest topics of interest in sleep technology. Dr. Rich Rosenberg has helped us shape this assessment and it has focused our approach tremendously. With the needs assessment, there is no longer guess work that’s done to figure out what topics are the most relevant to sleep technologists today. The AAST is committed now more than ever to voicing and addressing what sleep technolgists want to learn today, in fact, we have released our Future Course Survey to garner responses from sleep technologists on what educational opportunities should be developed. I would like to add that the recent AAST spring course on Risk Management was a direct result of the needs assessment process I mentioned before. Soon modules will be available for the topics covered at this meeting as well. Planning is in process now for the 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver and the Fall Course.
Q: For those who are not familiar with the role of the program committee within the AAST, how would you describe it? How does the program committee carry out the strategic plan of the AAST?
A: The program committee is probably the most visible committee of all the committees within the AAST. I would describe the program committee as the educational arm and a public forum for the AAST strategic plan. The program committee assesses the board of director’s plans and the needs assessment and develops all the different courses, whether it be the national meeting, spring course or fall course. We recognized that with the five year credential reaccreditation period, we needed to help individuals both to attain their continuing education credits and to improve their core knowledge.
Q: How much planning does it take to prepare for the fall course, spring course and of course the annual meeting? I think this is an issue that state sleep societies encounter often, finding a way to better prepare for their educational meetings for membership.
A: Some of these meetings can take up to 18 months to plan. That includes the time required for the needs assessment, the time to identify a site to have the meeting, and the time to prepare an agenda and identify the speakers as well as getting AAST board member input and approval. It is absolutely a team effort.
Q: Do you have any advice for regional or state sleep societies that want to organize better meetings?
A: Networking is key. Networking with key opinion leaders, including networking with committee members and AAST board members for that matter. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance! The AAST program committee members and board members are always happy to advise regional and state sleep societies on best practices to run a successful meeting.
Q: Any final thoughts on how AAST members can make sure that their voice is heard in relation to educational programming opportunities?
A: Right now, the AAST has a Future Course Survey that's available online for sleep technologists to get their voices here. Make sure you complete it and get your voice heard!