The Value of AAST Membership: A Historical Perspective
When I started in this field over 30 years ago, I was very young, and knew that I wanted to make sleep technology my career. I was getting my degree in Psychology at Sacramento State, and decided to take a tour of the Stanford Sleep Lab. I figured, if you are going to get information and network, why not start from the top, so I met with Sharon Keenan, who was the current President of APT (Association of Polysomnographic Technologists, now known as AAST). She was so kind and open to me asking all kinds of career questions! She recommended I go to a sleep lab in Sacramento, and take a tour, which I did, and that was my first job as a sleep technologist.
My first sleep meeting was the APSS meeting in San Francisco, in 1987. Everything was so new, and the field was still so small. I don’t recall if there was a vendor hall, or if there was a separate sleep tech meeting, but I do remember going to a few research sessions, and meeting a few sleep techs and doctors. I did some networking in both Sacramento, where I worked, and in the Bay Area, and met some really great techs! My goal was to network and get to know a lot of sleep techs, and advance in this field, which the AAST has allowed me to do.
AAST Members: Continue to benefit from all the valuable offerings AAST membership provides.
I had such a great time at that first meeting that I decided I would attend them every year, and I haven’t missed one in the 30 years I’ve been in this field! As a night tech, I didn’t get any educational leave or financial support to attend the meetings, so I just took vacation, and considered it an investment in my future.
The San Diego meeting the following year in 1988 was a blast! I met a lot of people that I still talk to today. As the years went by, I decided to contribute as a board member back in the late 90s. I’ve always loved writing, so I volunteered to write for the A2Zzz magazine, and contributed many articles. I was on the Education Committee, and facilitated the making of educational videos for the Product Committee. It has been very rewarding volunteering for various committees, and so easy to do. It is one of the best ways to not only network closely with other sleep techs, but to also give back to the organization.
Going to the AAST meeting annually is always a highlight for me. Seeing the sleep techs I met in previous years felt like a reunion of sorts. Learning from the techs that were much more advanced and had been in the field longer than I was a treat!
Some of the meetings in the past had different events that allowed sleep techs to socialize and learn. We had a few meetings that had a “Snooze Bowl”; a game show made up of teams that were asked sleep-related questions for points. We have also had a silent auction a few times, which was also fun. We now have Blues Night, which is made up of sleep techs who get together once per year and play some awesome blues. I like the meetings taking place in different regions, which allows for exploration of new places, and meeting different techs.
Highlights for me included Orlando, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia; in which there was an event with a psychiatrist/pianist who played and talked about the mental state of the composers, and Washington DC, where we lobbied Washington staffers and representatives on behalf of funding for sleep.
I can’t imagine not being involved in the AAST, as it has given me a lot; education, networking, colleagues and friendships.