Long before some of you were old enough to pronounce the word “polysomnography” or consider sleep technology as a career, the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) was building a credentialing product and brand that reflected high-quality patient care and services. Now, more than 30 years later, BRPT is recognized world-wide as the leader in sleep technologist certification. The BRPT of today remains true to its roots and reputation for providing a well-recognized and respected certification product. In recent years, the mission and vision have expanded to focus on long-term value for credential holders through growth into products and services that inspire professional excellence and lifelong learning. With a strong history of excellence as a professional leader, today’s organization is positioning itself for growth, endurance, and expansion to be recognized around the world for leadership, high standards in sleep credentialing, and quality education for years to come.
Strategic Directions: New Endeavors on the Horizon
Two exciting new BRPT initiatives are taking place in 2013. Further establishing BRPT as an advocate for verifiable sleep technologists’ competency, BRPT’s Government Relations Committee is stepping up its efforts to monitor legislative and regulatory activity in an effort to be more engaged in state advocacy.
The second initiative involves the addition of a resource and education director to oversee and develop exam materials and education products. Anticipated to be on board by the fall of 2013, the resource and education director will enable BRPT to expand the availability of exam prep materials, continuing education offerings, and professional resources, and build alliances with other organizations. This new role will complement the work of the Exam Development Committee by not only strengthening and enhancing the exam process, but also improving the value to credential holders throughout their entire career.
Clinical Sleep Educators: A Rapidly Growing Specialty
To support an expanding mission and vision, in 2012 BRPT began offering a competency-based certificate program for clinical sleep educators. The Clinical Sleep Educator (CSE) Certificate Program is a multidisciplinary education course for licensed and credentialed health care providers working with patients, families, and the community to promote sleep hygiene, the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, and awareness of the role of sleep to good health. Upon successful completion of a proficiency exam, participants receive a Clinical Sleep Educator certificate. The certificate is comparable to the Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) card received upon completion of BCLS education. As with BCLS, there is no associated credential or continuing education requirement.
In 2012, BRPT conducted two CSE certificate programs and awarded more than 700 assessment-based certificates for clinical sleep educators. Two CSE programs are planned for 2013, one in May in conjunction with the Nashville Focus conference, and another in the fall in Louisville, Ky, in conjunction with the annual BRPT Symposium.
The Job Task Analysis: Meeting Demands of a Changing Field
BRPT conducted a job task analysis (JTA) for both the RPSGT and CPSGT exams in late 2012. A job task analysis is an extensive survey of credentialed individuals working in the field and is the cornerstone of a valid and reliable examination. It is conducted every 3 to 5 years to ensure that exams evolve with changing job practices and technologies. The last job task analysis was done in 2009.
The JTA revealed that sleep technologists are performing a greater variety of procedures and therapies compared to previous years. While this was not a surprise, the JTA validated an increased involvement in pediatric testing, unattended portable monitoring, patient education, compliance, daytime drowsiness assessments, and use of PAP-alternative treatments and therapies. As a result, new exam blueprints incorporating the new or expanded content were developed and are effective for exams occurring on or after July 1, 2013. At the same time, the updated American Academy of Sleep Medicine scoring rules will be incorporated into BRPT exams.
BRPT also will be conducting a job task analysis for sleep educators this year. This JTA will provide the basis for professional standards of knowledge, skills, and competencies for clinical sleep educators. BRPT will use the JTA as a basis for developing a credentialing exam for sleep educators, projected to be available in 2014.
RPSGT Recertification: Reinforcing the Value of Education
Consistent with expectations for all health care professionals, RPSGTs are required to recertify to maintain their credential. Recertification occurs every 5 years and is based on the date of passing the initial RPSGT exam. Since recertification began in 2011 and through 2012, nearly 7,500 RPSGTs have completed the recertification process. Fewer than 30% allowed their certifications to expire. Individuals who have not been granted an extension and who are more than 1 year past their recertification date must start the credentialing process over. Those who are within 1 year of expiration have options to reinstate their RPSGT credential.
Exam Eligibility: More Flexibility for Candidates
To make the exam eligibility requirements for clinical experience more flexible for those working adjustable shifts and schedules, BRPT no longer requires individuals to work in sleep more than 20 hours per week in order to be eligible for the RPSGT exam. Effective March 2013, the eligibility requirement is based on achieving a total number of hours of clinical experience within a 3-year period prior to the exam. This change benefits technologists who split their hours with other services such as respiratory care or EEG, or work only 1 day a week in the sleep lab. Similar changes were made for the CPSGT exam, making access to both examinations an option for those who previously could not qualify.
BRPT also added two new exam eligibility pathways for the CPSGT exam in 2012: one for students ready to graduate from formal PSG education and another for students who completed focused didactic education paired with limited clinical experience. These additional CPSGT pathways open certification to individuals who are not ready to take the RPSGT exam but need a basic credential in order to gain clinical experience.
In March, BRPT removed the paid clinical experience eligibility requirement for on-the-job training pathways for the RPSGT exam. A similar decision was made in 2012 for the CPSGT exam. BRPT moved away from the paid clinical experience requirement to accommodate applicants who work in states that do not permit clinical experience as part of on-the-job training.
BRPT also developed a new eligibility pathway for the RPSGT exam for international candidates who often have difficulty comparing their education and experience requirements with those required in the United States. The new International Pathway is geared toward international candidates performing polysomnography after completion of postsecondary education specifically required for practice in a country outside of the United States.
The STAR Program: Identifying Education Resources
BRPT launched the Sleep Technology Approved Resource (STAR) Program in April 2012 to identify education programs that candidates could use to meet on-the-job training eligibility requirements for the RPSGT and CPSGT examinations. In a field that does not require minimal education standards for entry into practice, multiple education and experience pathways for exam eligibility are needed to meet the variety of options for entry into the field.
The STAR program is not an accrediting body for educational programs. BRPT strongly encourages STAR providers to pursue accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Designation as a STAR provider by BRPT does not in any way imply review or endorsement of the content or delivery of an education program. STAR recognition is granted solely for the purpose of establishing candidate eligibility for the RPSGT and CPSGT exams.
Monitoring the Regulatory Arena: An Active Legislative Agenda
BRPT’s legislative monitoring and advocacy efforts gained momentum in 2012, demonstrating BRPT’s commitment to ensuring that the RPSGT credential remains the gold standard for licensure and regulation. Last year, BRPT successfully worked with state legislators and regulatory boards in Idaho, Washington, DC, Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon. In 2013, BRPT is committed to enhancing its advocacy efforts on behalf of sleep technologists and patients.
BRPT Initiatives: A Commitment to Education and Value
Over the past few years, BRPT has been increasing its educational offerings to better serve its credential holders and the growing field of sleep technology. Six years ago, BRPT organized a small RPSGT-only education course that has evolved into the annual BRPT Symposium, a respected educational offering for sleep technologists. Other BRPT educational initiatives include:
• A series of free webinars for BRPT credential holders.
• The Continuing Sleep Technology Education Program (CSTE) wherein BRPT reviews and approves continuing education programs, awarding Continuing Sleep Technology Education credit that can be used to meet a multitude of continuing education requirements, including recertification.
• A partnership with the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine to support The Online Foundation of Sleep Technology, a self-study program for exam candidates.
To better serve our credential holders, BRPT increased the number and type of communications provided to credential holders, increased the number of staff in the BRPT office to better respond to credential holder needs, and enhanced website design and e-mail response cues.
Certification Facts: Still the Core BRPT Business
Despite economic uncertainty, health care reform, and options for sleep technologist certification, BRPT remains a strong and respected organization. This year, BRPT reaches an exciting milestone by awarding the 20,000th RPSGT credential. This milestone sets the stage for continued growth and a bright future for the continued evolution of BRPT. SR
Cindy Altman, RPSGT, R.EEG/EP T., is president of the Board of Directors of the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists. She is the technical director for the Creighton University Sleep Disorders Center in Omaha, Neb. Questions for the author can be sent to [email protected].