Online Sleep Apnea Technician Training Programs
Sleep apnea technicians, also known as polysomnographic technologists (PSTs), use electronic equipment and their own observation skills to monitor patients undergoing sleep studies. Training for these positions typically comes in the form of certificate or associate's degree programs, and certain aspects of these programs can be completed via distance education. However, the need for hands-on experience with specialized equipment precludes the availability of fully online options.
Online Polysomnographic Technology Certificate and Associate's Degree Programs
Distance-education certificate and associate's degree programs in polysomnographic technology, also referred to as sleep diagnostics technology, can prepare students for entry-level PST positions wherein they ready patients for sleep studies and record information about patients' sleep patterns. Physicians later evaluate their findings to diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, snoring and restless legs syndrome.
Online polysomnographic technology certificate programs typically require 31-44 credits to complete, while associate's degree programs may necessitate double the number of credits due to general-education requirements. At both levels, students usually receive and turn in assignments using the Internet. Communication with professors and fellow students can take place via discussion boards and e-mail.
In addition to online courses, polysomnographic technology certificate and associate's degree candidates generally are required to attend on-campus lab classes. In some programs, these classes meet on weekends or during the summer. Students also might need to visit campus to complete practical and written exams, in which case they need to find an approved hospital or sleep-disorder facility at which to complete their clinical training.
Most online certificate and associate's degree programs in polysomnographic technology require applicants to hold current CPR certification; some seek high school graduates who already are working in the allied health field or who have completed some college-level coursework in math and science. In general, students also need to undergo a background check and/or drug screening before beginning clinical experiences.
Sample Online Curriculum
In addition to introductory courses in medical terminology and polysomnography technology basics, topics that might be available for study online include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Clinical sleep disorders
- Sleep-monitoring equipment
- Reporting and managing data
- Sleep disorders specific to infants, children and women
Prospective students might want to choose an online polysomnographic technology certificate or associate's degree program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP). Completion of a CAAHEP-accredited program is one of four paths to certification as a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) through the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (www.brpt.org). While this certification is voluntary, some states have established or are developing licensure programs for PSTs, most of which require graduation from a CAAHEP-accredited program and/or RPSGT certification.
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