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How To Become a Polysomnographic Technologist

Concorde Staff

Concorde Staff

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Updated August 14, 2023. The information contained in this blog is current and accurate as of this date.
A polysomnographic technologist places electrodes on a patient's head to prepare him for a sleep study.

Sleeping is vital to every aspect of health, and sleep deprivation can adversely impact your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Specifically, according to Cleveland Clinic, even one night of poor sleep can affect anxiety and depression, memory and attention, reaction time, immune system, and more. If sleep and the study of it interest you, you may be an ideal candidate for the role of a polysomnographic technologist. Keep reading to learn what a polysomnographic technologist is, what they do, how to become a polysomnographic technologist, and much more about the position.
 

What Is a Polysomnographic Technologist?

Polysomnographic technologists, also known as sleep technologists, are health care professionals who help patients with insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleeping conditions. Polysomnographic technologists assist physicians, licensed sleep specialists, and other health care professionals in conducting sleep studies. These sleep studies help medical professionals diagnose the patient's sleep issue based on the results.
 

How Do Polysomnographic Technologists Help Patients Sleep Better?

As mentioned above, the tests administered by a polysomnographic technologist help doctors and other health care professionals diagnose and treat various sleep disorders. According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, there are now eight recognized categories of sleep disorders:

  • Insomnias
  • Sleep-related breathing issues
  • Hypersomnia of central origin not due to circadian rhythm sleep disorder, sleep-related breathing disorder, or other causes of disturbed nocturnal sleep
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
  • Parasomnias
  • Sleep-related movement disorders
  • Isolated symptoms, apparent normal variants, and unresolved issues
  • Other sleep disorders

 

A woman in bed smiles slightly as she looks at the alarm clock on her side table.

 

Qualities That Make a Good Polysomnographic Technologist

 

What Are The Duties of a Polysomnographic Technologist?

What Does a Polysomnographic Technologist Do

Polysomnographic technologists conduct multiple tests and support patients during sleep studies. During this process, polysomnographic technologists induct patients, answer questions they may have, and explain the procedures that will be administered. Then, you'll hook up any instruments or sensors, including polysomnographs, capnographs, positive airway pressure devices, and more1.

Once the patients are asleep, with sensors on the head, chest, face, stomach, and legs, polysomnographic technologists monitor them during the sleep study. While observing the patients, you'll also collect data and take detailed notes for each patient's sleep study log, noting:

  • Movement
  • Position changes
  • Disturbances
  • Snoring
  • Stages of sleep
  • Other sleep irregularities

In rare instances, polysomnographic technologists are also responsible for responding to critical events during a sleep study, such as seizures, breathing distress, or sleepwalking.

Overall, polysomnographic technologists' job responsibilities include the following:

  • Taking care of the sleep monitoring equipment and ensuring proper calibration
  • Explaining procedures to patients before and after the sleep study and answering any of their questions
  • Connecting sensors to patients before the study and removing them afterward
  • Recording and monitoring the information produced by the equipment
  • Taking observation notes and recording them in a sleep log
  • Analyzing and scoring the sleep study
  • Collaborating with the doctor or sleep specialist regarding the results of the sleep study
  • Helping patients understand how to implement the doctor's recommended treatment best

 

Where Do Polysomnographic Technologists Work?

Polysomnographic technologists typically work at sleep centers in clinics, hospitals, private physician's clinics of a doctor specializing in sleep disorders, or in a patient's home.

Close-up of a patient's hand as they rest in a hospital bed. Two health care professionals look on in the background.

 

How a Polysomnographic Technologist Helps Patients
 

How To Become a Polysomnographic Technologist

You'll need certain skills and educational requirements to become a polysomnographic technologist. Some employers may hire a polysomnographic technologist based on your previous experience as a polysomnographic assistant or in another related position. Still, most employers require prospective polysomnographic technologists to have at least a 1-year program in polysomnographic studies.

Skills and Abilities You Need to Become a Polysomnographic Technologist

Polysomnographic technologists have a specific yet vital job in helping those with sleep issues and, as a result, must have a particular set of skills. These abilities include2:

  • Communication 

Sleep technologists must have refined communication skills. During shifts, polysomnographic technologists are responsible for communicating with both patients and other health care professionals. This communication with patients is especially essential, as sleep technologists must effectively communicate the steps involved in a sleep study, information about various sleep disorders, and guidelines regarding their treatment and care plans.

  • Technical 

Like any health care role, polysomnographic technologists need specific technical knowledge and expertise. Sleep technologists must maintain strict standards and protocols for specialized equipment used during a sleep study.

  • Empathy 

Polysomnographic technologists must have empathy for their patients to communicate with them effectively. Part of this communication will include recognizing a patient's specific situation and attempting to understand their perspective.

After all, patients with sleeping issues may experience fatigue, irritability, and other cognitive issues that may impair their thinking. So, polysomnographic technologists need to understand this and be considerate of what the patient is experiencing. This empathy will help polysomnographic technologists maximize patient comfort during their sleep study.

  • Attention to detail 

Sleep technologists need to have excellent attention to detail. During a sleep study, polysomnographic technologists take in-depth notes to help the doctor and other health care professionals diagnose a patient. Consequently, it's vital that a polysomnographic technologist can stay focused and maintain accurate patient records.

  • Interpersonal skills 

As mentioned above, polysomnographic technologists must develop the emotional intelligence to relate to and comfort patients. These interpersonal skills are necessary to help patients relax enough to sleep with the sensors on them, which can be a challenge, especially for those who already have sleeping issues — like those who need a sleep study.

  • Physical abilities 

While some sleep studies happen during the day, most are at night. So, prospective polysomnographic technologists must be comfortable working at night. Similarly, sleep technologists also need the ability to work long shifts while spending a lot of time on their feet.

 

A health care professional takes notes on a clipboard while a patient lies on a hospital bed in the background.

 

What a Polysomnographic Technologist Does at Work

 

Educational Requirements You Need to Become a Polysomnographic Technologist

As mentioned, most employers require prospective polysomnographic technologists to complete at least a polysomnographic studies program which typically takes a year. At Concorde Career Colleges, we provide an excellent Polysomnographic Technology diploma program. This program helps prepare graduates using hands-on clinical learning experiences. You can earn your diploma and complete the polysomnographic technology program at Concorde in as little as eight months.

After completing your Polysomnographic Technologist program, you must also obtain a basic life support certification. This certification gives you the knowledge and training to recognize and respond quickly to symptoms of cardiac arrest. Additionally, students must pass the Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) exam offered through the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) to receive licensing. Concorde designs the polysomnographic technology diploma program to prepare students for this very exam.
 

FAQs About Becoming a Polysomnographic Technologist

What Are the Differences Between a Polysomnographic Technologist and a Sleep Therapist?

Sleep therapists differ from sleep technologists in how they seek to provide aid to those with sleeping issues. Where polysomnographic therapists specialize in researching and studying sleep issues, sleep therapists review conditions and provide patients with a comprehensive care plan that typically includes patients' mental and physical health. These care plans are typically created using the tests and analyses done by a polysomnographic technologist.

What's the Job Outlook for Polysomnographic Technologists?

There is a growing demand for sleep aids and devices. Consequently, according to Arizton, the business surrounding sleep will reach a global market size of $137.16 billion. That's why the job outlook for polysomnographic technologists is positive and on the rise. This outlook is especially true for larger cities with a higher number of residents with sleeping disorders. Zippia projects that between 2016 and 2028, the number of jobs for polysomnographic technologists will grow approximately 9% and produce 23,000 more job opportunities across the country3.

How to become a Polysomnographic Technologist at Concorde?

Are you ready to learn more about how you can become a polysomnographic technologist through Concorde's Polysomnographic Technology program? This program gives students plenty of hands-on experience so they can enter the field prepared and confident. If you're ready to positively impact those who suffer from sleep disorders in your community, find out about our requirements and opportunities for becoming a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist by contacting Concorde's Admissions office today.
 

Interested In How To Become a Polysomnographic Technologist?

Click here to explore Polysomnographic Technology programs near you!

Footnotes

1. “How Can I Become a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist?” Learn.org

https://learn.org/articles/How_Can_I_Become_a_Registered_Polysomnographer_Technologist.html

2. “How to Become a Polysomnographic Technologist (With Skills),” Indeed

https://ca.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/how-to-become-polysomnographic-technologist

3. “How to Become a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist,” Zippia

https://www.zippia.com/registered-polysomnographic-technologist-jobs/how-to-become-a-registered-polysomnographic-technologist/

Take The Next Step Towards a Brighter Future

Interested in learning more about our Polysomnographic Technology program? We have a Concorde representative ready to talk about what matters most to you. Get answers about start dates, curriculum, financial aid, scholarships and more!

  1. Program length may be subject to change dependent on transfer credits and course load. Please refer to current course catalog for more information. Concorde does not guarantee admittance, graduation, subsequent employment or salary amount.

  2. Professional certification is not a requirement for graduation, may not be a requirement for employment nor does it guarantee employment.

  3. Financial aid is available to those who qualify but may not be available for all programs. Concorde does not guarantee financial aid or scholarship awards or amounts.

  4. Clinical hour requirements and delivery may vary by campus location and may be subject to change. Concorde does not guarantee clinical site assignments based upon student preference or geographic convenience; nor do clinical experiences guarantee graduation, post-clinical employment or salary outcomes.

  5. Registration and certification requirements for taking and passing these examinations are not controlled by Concorde, but by outside agencies, and are subject to change by the agency without notice. Therefore, Concorde cannot guarantee that graduates will be eligible to take these exams, at all or at any specific time, regardless of their eligibility status upon enrollment.