Questions about the AAST, SmithBucklin, and the AASM: The Big Ones
The AAST has hired SmithBucklin, the largest association management company in the world.
Since then there has been a number of questions that our current, past , and dare I say future members have been asking.
We have listed the top questions and answers thus far in this post.
Why can’t AAST participate in the annual SLEEP meeting?
This was an APSS decision and the AAST was informed that only organizations affiliated with the AASM would be allowed to participate in the SLEEP meeting.
Since its inception as the APT in 1978, the annual meeting has always been a collaborative endeavor with technologists meeting alongside and interacting with physicians. This was a precedent set long prior to the AAST being managed by the AASM. With the change in management, the AAST sent a letter to the APSS asking if the longstanding tradition would be continued. Sadly, we were informed by APSS leadership that going forward the AAST will be unable to participate in the annual SLEEP meeting. The 2017 AAST meeting in Boston held at SLEEP was the last collaboration for AAST with the APSS.
The AAST BOD is currently deliberating alternatives including developing a separate meeting or meeting in collaboration with other sleep medicine organizations. The AAST Annual Meeting, always an outstanding educational offering for participants at all levels, will continue as the flagship meeting for the organization with the continued efforts of our leaders, members, supporters and new management team.
Why make a change?
The AAST undertook strategic and tactical planning in 2016 in an effort to determine how to meet the increasingly complex communication and education technology needs of our membership. These technology needs were not available through the AASM, therefore the AAST outsourced some of these tasks to third parties and consultants. This led to problems with coordination of roles and increased costs to the society, and led to a search for new management that could meet the needs of our organization.
The need for advanced technology was foremost in our assessment of management options for the AAST. Association management software, the ability to manage routine membership management functions efficiently and effectively, a robust learning management platform that is easy to use, and the ability to expand technology as needed were important considerations. The board undertook an extensive and thorough review of management options that culminated in the AAST moving to new management with SmithBucklin on July 1, 2017.
What is the AAST doing about education?
On the education front, the AAST has hosted an Education Taskforce comprised of educators, representatives from accredited associate and certificate education programs, the credentialing bodies and the CoA PSG, and other stakeholders since the 2013 AAST Summit that began the process of determining the educational needs for the sleep technologist of the future.
The AAST position statement on education is posted on the website and provides detailed information on the stance the AAST has taken on the need for an increased educational requirement for entry into the sleep technology profession.
This taskforce determined a formal needs assessment would support the call for an associate degree as the entry level educational minimum. The AAST board of directors commissioned McKinley Advisors, an independent consulting firm, to conduct research with stakeholders to assess how this proposed educational requirement would affect the field.
The key findings of this AAST Needs Assessment were published in April 2017 and indicate that although overall participants agreed that a higher education requirement will be beneficial in the long run, elevate the perception of the profession, and lead to higher quality care for patients there were concerns. A primary concern is that a change in the educational requirement will reduce the number of qualified technologists, limit the number of future technologists, and result in recruitment and hiring challenges.
Survey results did, however, show that sleep technologists vary significantly in their level of skills and competency, and most are not well-prepared to work in today’s professional environment. A need for specialty-focused training and stackable or sequential credentials was identified and will be a future AAST focus as a means to support members and the field in the future.
The AAST will work with education programs and credentialing bodies to outline appropriate educational pathways and goals for future sleep technologists that will meet the needs of employers and assure high quality care for patients. We intend to continue to promote the need for a higher level of education for technologists, along with appropriate credentialing, as outlined in the timeline previously developed by the AAST Education Taskforce. With collaboration and a creative approach, we feel these goals can be accomplished.
What about our name?
The AAST board of directors has, as a part of last year’s strategic and tactical planning, had discussion about changing the name of the organization.
One of our first tasks upon completion of our management transition is to make an assessment of who we are and who our stakeholders are; including their educational and membership needs.
As the sleep medicine field expands and moves globally we find more interest in educational opportunities from others entering or participating in the field along with interest from the international community, once a vibrant part of our organization.
As a result, we are performing a brand assessment that will assist us to explore and determine if there is a need for a name change.
Where do we go from here?
The AAST has actively collaborated with all stakeholders in an effort to expand our scope of practice, which has been evolving as healthcare in general and sleep medicine specifically have moved from diagnosis toward a patient care model.
As an independent entity, we have generated significant interest from others working in new and different facets of sleep medicine, and look forward to working with these professionals in a collaborative environment.
The AAST supports the CCSH credential and a special taskforce has recently developed the standardized patient education curriculum that is required to support the credential as well as pave the way toward an ability to bill for our professional services.
In addition, core competencies for the sleep health educator have been developed and are posted on the AAST website.
Educational programs and resources have been, and will continue to be developed to support this arm of the profession as we move forward.
Our mission and vision both support our continued focus on leading the sleep technology profession through education, resources, and advocacy and setting the standard for professional excellence in the evolving practice of sleep healthcare.
Our future educational endeavors will be focused on meeting the needs of the entire sleep team, with a focus on advanced technologies and patient education and support.
To learn more about these changes you can watch the AAST Town Hall recording by clicking wathc the presentation button below . The purpose this meeting was to provide members more information about the transition of AAST’s headquarters and staff management to SmithBucklin, and to give you the opportunity to ask questions about this change.