Otolaryngologists need to know about sleep-wake disorders, sleep in psychiatric and neurologic disorders, biologic rhythms, dreaming and behavior issues, endocrinology as it relates to sleep, and more. And, of huge importance, is polysomnogram (PSG) interpretation.
Explore This IssueApril 2008
In fact, Dr. Wardrop suggested that the otolaryngologist team up with a sleep medicine specialist for a few months prior to the exam to get the PSG reading experience. Find a mentor, she recommended.
During the examination, candidates will be tested on the basic science of sleep, clinical disorders of sleep, and the use of clinical and PSG data. Questions will emphasize sleep-stage scoring, artifact recognition, interpretation of sleep studies, diagnosis of sleep disorders and patient management skills, Dr. Wardrop said.
Another hugely valuable way to prepare is to sign up for an introductory sleep medicine course. These typically are five- to seven-day courses, and should provide a good introduction to sleep medicine and PSG interpretation. Sleep medicine review courses are useful as well, she said.
Joining the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (of which fewer than 1% of current members are otolaryngologists) and attending sleep specialty conferences may also be beneficial.
In addition, otolaryngologists should consider sharing their surgical expertise by giving talks to groups in other medical specialities. This is something that helps keep the otolaryngological aspects of sleep disorders alive in the wider field of sleep medicine, and allows for a sharing of expertise.
While physicians must prepare for the test on their own, the test is administered at several community-based computer testing facilities.
Dr. Wardrop found that the arrangement when she took the exam was convenient because there is a testing center near where I work. And it was comfortable because you could work at your own pace, she said. As with any testing center, she had to present identification and be photographed and fingerprinted-good mechanisms to ensure that people taking the test are who they say they are.
A total of 78 of the doctors taking the exam that day were otolaryngologists. Overall, 1882 physicians from various specialties took the exam, with the largest group being in internal medicine.
To prepare, the most important thing is to work on training yourself, Dr. Wardrop said.
Sleep Certification Exam- The Results
The first examination for subcertification in sleep medicine was administered on two days in November 2007. A total of 1882 physicians took the examination, including 78 otolaryngologists (4% of all candidates). The examination, administered at several computer-based testing centers around the country, covered the full spectrum of sleep disorders. The content was the same for all test-takers regardless of specialty.