But more fellowships are becoming available as the need escalates. By making more otolaryngologists aware of the fellowships, Dr. Wardrop aims to increase interest in sleep medicine certification, which will hopefully increase the number of fellowships as well as the number of otolaryngologists with this specialized skill set.
Edward M. Weaver, MD, MPH, professor of otolaryngology, chief of sleep surgery, and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle, said there is greater demand for sleep medicine/surgery training among otolaryngologists as sleep medicine has taken an increasingly prominent role in otolaryngology. Sleep medicine is included in resident training, in-service examinations, and the board certification examination. Sleep surgery is also increasingly recognized as an important alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for obstructive sleep apnea.
Challenges of Program Development
One reason fellowships are limited is the challenges involved in developing a specialized program that includes surgery in sleep. “A hybrid program requires careful planning of the fellow’s time and flexibility among the sleep medicine faculty to accommodate adequate time for subspecialized surgery training while achieving the goals and requirements of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited sleep medicine fellowship,” Dr. Weaver said. “But this is achievable when there is a close relationship between sleep medicine and sleep surgery faculty.”