To date, 1,250 registered polysomnographic technologists (RPGSTs) have applied for equivalency status to obtain certification from the American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM) as a registered sleep technologist (RST), according to a news release issued by ABSM, on Sept. 27. The deadline for RPSGTs to submit an equivalency application to the ABSM is March 31, 2012, and the application fee is $25.
The release also noted, "All practicing sleep technologists who have passed the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) examination prior to Dec. 31, 2011, and are RPSGTs in good standing, are eligible to apply to the ABSM for RST equivalency status. This process gives RPSGTs an opportunity to obtain the new RST certificate without taking the ABSM Sleep Technologist Registry Examination, which will be offered for the first time Nov. 11."
ABSM President Nathaniel F. Watson, MD, was quoted in the news release as saying, "The encouraging response from RPSGTs affirms the value of the ABSM's new registry exam and RST credential, which will promote professional excellence and dedication to the highest standards of patient care."
This new sleep tech exam and certification has been met with concern by some in the sleep profession who fear a new exam (in addition to those already offered by the BRPT and the National Board for Respiratory Care) could flood the market with credentialed sleep technicians, which in turn could create a drop in salaries by virtue of supply and demand.
The BRPT issued a written response to ABSM's news release stating: "We read with interest the . number of RPSGT credential holders opting to accept the offer of ABSM RST equivalency -- for a fee of $25 -- without a requirement to sit for the RST exam. The RST exam has not been administered to a single sleep professional, therefore the only way for ABSM to issue the credential now is to allow technologists to pay for the 'equivalency' by using their RPSGT credential plus a fee.
"We strongly disagree with . Dr. Nathaniel Watson's statement that the number of RPSGTs who have opted into RST equivalency 'affirms the value of the ABSM's new registry exam and the RST credential.' It is not possible to 'affirm the value' of a credential for which no exam has yet been given, reviewed for reliability and validity, and validated by an independent third party."
The BRPT further maintained, "Those individuals currently described as holders of the RST credential are, in fact, holders of the RPSGT credential: a credential which Dr. Watson and other representatives of the AASM leadership have previously indicated is not an indicator of readiness to perform the primary duties of a polysomnographic technologist."
The BRPT's response made the point that the list of RST credential holders is "being built on the recognized strength of the RPSGT credential, with financial support from $31,250 RPSGTs have paid to ABSM."
The BRPT concluded, ".not a single RPSGT holds the credential without having taken and passed the RPSGT exam. At no time in the history of the RPSGT has a technologist been awarded the credential without sitting for the exam."