Fully or partially online polysomnography programs may be available, especially at technical schools. When previewing your options, make sure to investigate the program types, courses, faculty, practical training options, and accreditation of a school.
How to Select an Online Polysomnography School
Online polysomnography programs teach students how to test for and assess sleep disorders in patients during polysomnography evaluations, which are more commonly known as sleep studies. Students should weigh the program type and courses with the practical training and accreditation factors
Online polysomnography programs are usually hybrids, combining lecture courses delivered online with hands-on clinical experience in a sleep lab or hospital. Because of the clinical requirements, an entire program in the field usually cannot be completed online.
The amount of practical, on-site training versus online instruction varies among programs. Students may want to investigate this factor when choosing an online polysomnography school.
Courses and Faculty
Students may also want to determine if a school's online courses provide the same professors, class sizes, and individual attention as their on-campus counterparts. Typically, this information can be learned on the school's website or by contacting the program directly.
A prospective sleep technician may also wish to investigate a program's accreditation before deciding on an online polysomnography school. Graduates of a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) are eligible to pursue Registered Polysomnographic Technician (RPSGT) status by taking an exam. The RPSGT is the highest credential that a non-physician can earn in the field.
Some accredited programs are standalone polysomnography programs. Others offer related degrees through which students can specialize in polysomnography. A list of accredited programs can be found on the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists' (BRPT) website (www.brpt.org).
Students can pursue other pathways toward the RPSGT, which are also outlined on the BRPT website. Some schools are Accredited Sleep Technologist Education Program (A-STEP) providers. The A-STEP training program - developed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) - consists of an 80-hour classroom introductory course followed by a series of 14 self-study modules completed online. Students can sit for the RPSGT exam if they complete nine months of on-the-job experience in addition to the A-STEP requirements.
List of Common Online Polysomnography Programs
Polysomnographic Technology Certificate
During this online program, students are taught the fundamentals of sleep disorders and learn how to recognize pathologies in human sleep patterns. Students also learn how to analyze polysomnography data. This information is gathered through a variety of tests performed by the polysomnography technician, including the Multiple Sleep Latency Test - which is an evaluation for narcolepsy - and Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT). The MWT reveals how easily a patient can stay awake during the day; it can be an indicator of a treatment program's success. Students learn about:
- ECG recognition and testing
- Interventions in gas exchange
- Physiology of sleep
- Sleep disorder pathology
Associate in Applied Science in Polysomnography
A polysomnography program leading to the associate's degree usually lasts two years and requires the completion of general education requirements in addition to sleep technology-related courses. Some AAS programs allow students to explore related topics - such as respiratory therapy - in more depth. According to CAAHEP, a 2-year associate's degree program is generally preferred by employers. General education courses include those in:
- Technical report writing
- Social science
Schools with Online Programs in Polysomnography
The Oregon Institute of Technology offers online certificate and associate's degree options in polysomnographic technology. These programs are designed for those looking to become registered polysomnographic technologists, with the associate's degree also serving as a means for current RPSGTs to advance in their careers. Graduates from these programs are stated to have above a 95% pass rate for the national exam according to the school, as well as high rates of employment in their field. The bulk of coursework is delivered online while clinical practice takes place in an accredited sleep lab.
Southeast Community College has an online certificate in polysomnographic technology. Lasting six months, all coursework is completed in an online format. Clinical work will be conducted as a sleep clinic, requiring a minimum of 150 hours of work. Program graduates are prepared to take the RPSGT exam.
Polysomnography technology programs can be found online, though they typically include an in-person clinical portion. When choosing a school, consider the programs and courses available, practical training opportunities, the strength of the faculty, and school accreditation.