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By: Kevin Phillips on April 21st, 2016

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Who is Involved in Sleep Medicine? Organizations, Committees, & More

Events | Sleep Technologist Advice

sleep medicine

Sleep medicine is a vast and expanding field of study, and as with any large field of expertise, there are quite a number of organizations, educational programs, and credentials, all with acronyms associated.  All of these acronyms can get pretty confusing.

Here we hope to clarify the alphabet soup that represents some of the many different organizations and credentials that abound within and surrounding the world of sleep medicine.

What is the AAST?

tech-175The American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) is an allied health membership association for professional sleep technologists.

The AAST promotes standardized education and practices for sleep technicians, sleep technologists, and sleep center managers.  A key organizational function is to provide continuing education credits for Registered Sleep Technologists (RSTs), Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (RPSGTs), Certified Polysomnographic Technologists (CPSGTs) and Certified Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH) educators.

Established in 1978 as the Association of Polysomnographic Technologists (APT) by approximately 30 sleep technologists, the organization officially changed its name to AAST in 2007 and currently has approximately 4200 members.

The AAST promotes and encourages the highest level of professionalism amongst its members.  The organization continues to be at the forefront of the sleep technology profession through continued development of educational, technical, and clinical standards, guidelines and competencies that represent excellence in the practice of sleep technology.

The AAST publishes the A2Zzz quarterly magazine, which provides news and articles related to sleep medicine and technology.  AAST members can earn 1.5 CECs (continuing education credits) per issue.  A2Zzz is now available free for anyone to download. Click here to subscribe.

Membership in the AAST provides technologists and others working in the field benefits that include online resources, training opportunities, and a subscription to A2Zzzz.  Membership provides continually updated information and 32 free CEC’s annually.

What is the AASM?

AASM-250The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is a professional society dedicated to setting the standards for practice in the field of sleep medicine.  The organization was established in 1975 by a group of professionals who realized the growing field of sleep medicine required specialized standards and practices to meet the needs of patients suffering from various sleep disorders.

Nearly 40 years later, the AASM is still at the forefront of sleep health with over 12,000 participating members that include accredited sleep centers, physicians, scientists, and other members of the healthcare profession.

The AASM is the leader in the sleep medicine field, establishing the standards, providing education, and supporting research.

  • Education

            o   AASM regularly hosts training courses to keep sleep professionals updated on the latest practices, standards, and technology available.

            o   AASM has an online learning and training center full of resources for aspiring technicians, physicians, and sleep center staff including learning modules, practice exams, and certification opportunities.

            o   AASM has a website dedicated to answering common patient, physician, and healthcare professional questions regarding all things sleep related: http://www.sleepeducation.com

  • Research

            o   The AASM regularly publishes new research, studies, and findings in two sleep related scientific journals: Sleep and the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM).

So what’s the difference between the AAST and the AASM?

In short, the AASM is a professional society for physicians and sleep centers in the field of sleep medicine, and the AAST is a professional society for the technologists in the field of sleep medicine and technology.

What is the BRPT?

BRPTThe Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) is an independent, nonprofit certification board that offers credentials for sleep technologists and educators: Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT), Certified Polysomnographic Technologist (CPSGT) and the Certification in Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH).

The BRPT was initially established in 1978 as a committee of the APT (now AAST), and offered its first examination in 1979.

These examinations and credentials are developed to ensure that technologists and educators in the sleep medicine field hold the level of core knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes expected of and appropriate to their level of experience in the field.

Those holding RPSGT, CPSGT and CCSH credentials must obtain continuing education credits (CEC’s) to maintain their status. RPSGTs may opt to retest rather than earn CECs.

The RPSGT credential was accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in 2003. 

What is the ABSM?

exams-515969-editedThe American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides certification of sleep technologists through two distinct exams:

  • Sleep Technologists Registry Examination

  • Sleep Scoring Proficiency Examination

The RST (Registered Sleep Technologist) credential is awarded to technologists who have passed the ABSM’s sleep technologist registry examination.  In addition to educational requirements, proficiency in polysomnogram scoring is required in order to sit for this examination.

Those holding the RST credential must obtain continuing education credits (CEC’s) to maintain their status.   RSTs may opt to retest rather than earn CECs.

 What is the difference between the RST credential and the RPSGT credential?

The RPSGT credential has for a long time been the only examination available for sleep technologist certification.  The examination is based on a task-based survey of RPSGT credentialed technologists working in the field and is offered by the BRPT credentialing body.

The RST is a newer credential offered since 2011 by the ABSM credentialing body.  The certification is curriculum based; i.e. covers the information that technologists in formal education programs are taught based on a curriculum.

For an article detailing the differences between these examinations, click here.

 What is The NSF?

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders; and supporting sleep related education, research, and advocacy.

The NSF achieves public awareness through a variety of programs and activities including:

  • Promoting “National Sleep Awareness Week”

  • Conducting “Sleep In America Polls”

  • Partnering with Sleep Care Centers

  • Promoting “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week”

What is the CoA PSG?

committee-275The Committee on Accreditation for Polysomnographic Technologist Education (CoA PSG) is a committee involved in the programmatic accreditation of various educational programs in sleep technology.  The CoA PSG was established by the AASM, the AAST and the BRPT.  The CoA PSG determines the extent to which educational programs in sleep technology meet the standards and guidelines that have been established for polysomnographic technology education.

CoA PSG is one of many health science professions represented in the CAAHEP system.  The CoA PSG handles the majority of the discipline specific review of programs while CAAHEP provides the framework for the review process and assures due process has been followed at the CoA PSG level.

What is CAAHEP?

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the largest accreditor of education programs in the health and sciences field. This organization collaborates with the Committees on Accreditation (such as CoA PSG in the sleep technology educational field) to review and accredit various educational programs in health science fields.

For more information on the relationship between the CoA PSG and CAAHEP click here.

Further Resources:

For more information on the AASM click here.

For more information on the AAST click here.

For more information on the BRPT click here.

For more information on the ABSM click here.

For more information on the NSF click here.

For more information on the CoA PSG click here.

For more information on the CAAHEP click here.

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