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Life as an RPSGT

 
 

 

With friend and mentor Peter McGregor, right.

If you love your work..

Being involved in sleep medicine is a double blessing for me. First, is the great satisfaction I feel when helping sleep patients. There is no way to describe how humbling it is when a patient looks you in the eye and says: "If it wasn't for you, I'd be dead." I've also had the experience of being out shopping, when a woman walks up, gives me a crushing hug, and says: "My husband is feeling so much better Joe, thank you!" I was profoundly embarrassed, I had no idea which patient's wife she was, there were so many. Sleep is a very small world. My first formal sleep job was with Dr. Pascualy at Providence Hospital in Seattle in 1984. He started what would become the first purpose-built sleep lab in the Northwest. We recorded on paper in what would now seem like primitive conditions. The laundry supervisor came up one night and asked: "What is this black line across the waist on all these lab coats, we can't get it out?" Just then, a patient aroused, and sprayed my fresh lab coat with ink. "If you love your work, you'll never work a day in your life." I've been registered since 1986.

Second, I am grateful for the many, many wonderful people I've had the privilege to know and work with over the years.  In 1985, I met Peter McGregor for the first time. His favorite saying was "If it's not Scottish it's crap." Since then, I've worked in many labs, large and small. I would like to pay tribute to the people who gave so much to our field who are no longer with us, but their passion for knowledge, kindness, and generosity will be with me for the rest of my days. Peter McGregor, Steven-Guidro Frank, Dr. Nino-Murcia, Wally Carruthers, and Helen Bearpark, RIP. I will never forget you.

Joe Abramowitz, RPSGT
Washoe Sleep Disorders Center
Reno, Nevada

 

 

 

 


Some Things Change, Some Don’t

In 1978, we knew a lot about sleep, but we also knew we had much to learn. CPAP, BiPAP and the other modalities changed our way of treating patients. There have been new scoring rules and standardized recording processes; and the introduction of computers versus the old polygraphs. We have seen a growth in the interest in the field from the public, from physicians and from a career standpoint. Seeing all of the new processes and information that has evolved has kept the field fresh. The thing that has stayed the same is my love of the field and the patients that we see. Hearing their stories and being able to improve their quality of life, even in a small way, remain the greatest reward for me. That is what it is all about -- taking care of people.

Kathy Dillard, RPSGT, R. EEG. T
Clarian Arnett Sleep Medicine
Lafayette, IN

 
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Have Credential Will Travel

My journey with sleep began four years ago when I was hired by a sleep specialist to be a medical assistant as part of the day crew. It took three years before I started on the night shift in preparation for my boards. I recently became an RPSGT and I  am in the process of moving to England. I'm looking forward to the journey that lies ahead with my new credential and experiences. Sleep has been an interesting endeavor already and I'm sure it will continue to open doors
in the future.

Jodi Mangino, MA, RPSGT
CrossRoads Sleep Disorders Center
Boardman, OH

 
 
     
 


Now and Then

In 1990, my director at Spohn Hospital Shoreline told me he was opening a new department…a sleep center. It was the only one in the South Texas area at the time. Since I was an RRT and EEG tech it was only right he'd combine the two to became "sleep tech." I learned a lot from the people I've had the privilege to meet along the way and thank them all for their knowledge and continued support over the years. In 1998, I became an RPSGT, which I'm very proud of. The severe OSA patients are no longer treated with a "trach,” but a CPAP or BIPAP. I've seen many changes over the years, not just in the equipment, but also in the people whose lives have been improved by these changes. Today I work as an independent consultant to sleep labs in Texas as well as score from home. It has given me a flexible schedule to spend with my family.

Happy 30th Anniversary, BRPT!

Betty Sue Creech-Perry, RPSGT
Corpus Christi, Texas

 
 

 

   
 

Aloha!

  Sonia Lee-Gushi, RPSGT, CRT
 

Special thank you to Sonia for sending this photo taken with a technician and pharmacist from Thailand, China and Tasneeya, who came to Kuakini Medical Center to learn polysomnography in the early 1990's.  Sonia says that “Kuakini Medical Center sleep lab ohana (Hawaiian for "family") made many friends in Asia through Dr. Edward Morgan, a pulmonologist, who was Medical Director for 20 years. Looking at the black and white photo reminds me that the polygraph was the best tool for recording sleeping physiology at the time.  Our lab was blessed to participate in the transition from polygraph to digital signals. For me it sparked an interest in healthcare technology and has led me on a journey that criss-crosses the sleep path these days.”

In 1982, an extremely hypersomnolent Hawaiian grandmother, Tutu, had prolonged apneic periods, life-threatening oxygen desaturation and subsequent V-tach. Per sleep lab protocol, oxygen was titrated and the arrhythmias subsided.  In the morning, while removing her electrodes she lightheartedly said, “Before you woke me up to start the oxygen, I was dreaming that the menehunes (Hawaiian leprechauns) were calling me.”  With a rascal smile she asked, “Do you know what Hawaiians believe this means?”  I did.  Hawaiians believe that “menehunes” call you when you are dying. Post tracheotomy, Tutu tediously researched two family genealogies before the menehunes called her name again.  Aloha!

Sonia Lee-Gushi, RPSGT, CRT
BEI Consulting
Honolulu, Hawaii

 
 
   
 

The Good 'ol Days

In 1989, as an RRT, our hospital opened a sleep center to which I transferred. I have fond memories of those times. The sights and sounds of the pens scratching the paper during REM and obstructions, and the sound of the oxygen desaturations were magical. Techs could hear what was happening with the patients in the quiet control room. Reading sleep books aloud. Few masks and only one full face mask existed. Our belts had to be filled with gel to obtain a proper signal and we could make our thermocouples! Good friendships were kindled during those days and gratefully, remain.

Bridget Leibinger RRT; RPSGT
Sleep Associates, Inc.
Saginaw, Michigan 

 
 
   
 

Sharing Lives

Shirin Afshar , RPSGT, RCP, CRTI started working as a poly tech when my daughter was only 2 years old. I put her to bed before I left for work and had breakfast with her in the morning. I love this job.  When you do a patient’s hook up, they often share some of the issues in their lives, which can be very interesting.  I’ve treated famous people and homeless people as patients and they have all been nice to know.  I’ve had the best managers. I still work part-time as a sleep tech just because I love it, but my full time job is sleep lab supervisor.

Shirin Afshar , RPSGT, RCP, CRT
Pomona Valley Hospital
Pomona, California and
VA Medical Center
Long Beach, California

 
 
 
 
   
 

Special Delivery

George C. Dungan, II, RPSGTFrom 1982, the patients have become more interesting.  More comorbidity and more challenging patients present every day.  There is not one clinical day that I have not learned something new.  However, the first severe sleep apnea patient we treated with a trach (CPAP was not around yet) is the one I will always remember. He sent the lab a cooler full of venison – saying he and his son had gone hunting for the first time in the son’s 13-year life; thanks to his treatment.  He was too tired to be a dad, and we had fixed that.  It’s a great job.

George C. Dungan, II, RPSGT
Woolcock Institute of Medical Research
Sydney, Australia

 
 
   
 

Dream-Reader?

Life is great in the field of polysomnography. Your job is one-on-one with the patients. You really get to see the wonderful life changes you can make in another person’s life. You have fun with them. One of my patients thought that I could read his dreams. Another person thought that he could be electrocuted. All we ask is that you go to sleep. How hard can that be?

Joann Hunt, RPSGT
Manchester Hospital Sleep Lab
Manchester Memorial Hospital
Manchester, Connecticut

 
 
   
 

Changing Lives

Shawn Swope, RPSGTRPSGTs truly change people's lives in a positive way each and every day.  We help people live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life.  Not a week goes by that we don't have a patient walk through our door, or call us on the phone, just to say “Thank you.”  "Thank you for changing my life.”  "Before I came to your sleep center my life was an existence, now I'm really getting a chance to live, and I'm going to make the most of it.”  What more can you ask for when you head off to work in the morning?  We are truly blessed.

Shawn Swope, RPSGT
Central Washington Sleep Diagnostic Center
Wenatchee, Washington

 
 
   
 

Heart and Soul

Marcia L. Thompson, BBA, RN, RPSGT
Marcia and Escom  

 

 

I became an RPSGT after my husband suffered four heart attacks, open heart surgery, and eventually was placed on the heart transplant list in 2001. During the qualification period to be listed, he was tested for OSA. His AHI was 79! After being on CPAP for only a few months, he improved enough to be taken off the list temporarily and is living each day to the fullest. Is he cured? No. Does he enjoy a better quality of life with CPAP therapy? YES! I am dual credentialed, RN plus RPSGT, but sleep medicine is not my "job,” it's become my passion.

Marcia L. Thompson, BBA, RN, RPSGT
Sleep Elite/
Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center
Sleep Diagnostic Lab
Paintsville, KY

 
 
   
 

Sleep Career Path

After having my fourth child, I realized I had to do things on my own. I started working as a medical biller for about a year, but knew I needed to do more. Then I learned about a job opening watching people sleep!  I was curious, so I applied for the position and was hired in June 2006. I loved my job from the start and became registered April 2008 after 18 months on the job.  I have been working with the same company for the past three years, recently transferring from upstate New York to head a lab here in Conway, Arkansas as Lead Technologist, RPSGT. The journey has been wonderful. Aside from the lack of sleep, I love my job, my career and my patients. My life truly has taken a wonderful turn.

Renee Washburn, RPSGT
Sleep Telemedicine Services,
Texas Medical Diagnostic
Conway, Arkansas

 
 
   
 

“Sleep Has Been Good to Me"

I became a polysomnographer in 1996 after completing my certificate in Medical Assisting. As a student, I watched a patient toss and turn due to sleep apnea. I felt sorry for the patient. Then, once we administered CPAP, the patient did not move from the supine position and awakened refreshed for the first time in many years. I enjoyed this positive side of the medical field so I pursued becoming an RPSGT and passed in 1998. I have managed centers most of my career. Sleep has been good to me and now I'm going to graduate with my Bachelor's in Business this summer.

Shawn Cox, RPSGT
Medical City Dallas
Medical City Children’s Sleep Center
Dallas, Texas

 
 
   
 

Record This

Shelia Osterman, R. EEG/EP T., RPSGTI had a patient whose wife bought a tape recorder just so she could place it next to his pillow to prove to him that he did snore and just how loud it was.  Now that's happened before, I'm sure.  But, the funny part is that she made him bring in that recording the night of his study so I could hear it, too!  I told him that I didn't need to listen to the tape, that I'd be listening to him snore all night long anyway.

Shelia Osterman, R. EEG/EP T., RPSGT
Sleep Center/Neurodiagnostics
St. Elizabeth Regional Health
Lafayette, Indiana 

 
 
   
 

Beyond 9 to 5

Angela Huynh, RPSGTI was working as a project manager at an environmental lab.  Although I really enjoyed what I was doing, I was struggling with the typical Monday through Friday 9-5 schedule.  I would wrestle with insomnia every night despite my sleep deprivation.  I knew I had to do something about it.  I turned to sleep medicine as a solution for my sleep problem, but it turned out to be a career solution for my night owl nature. 

Angela Huynh, RPSGT
Morristown  Memorial Hospital
Morristown, New Jersey

 
 
   
 

Patient Perspective

Jim Grazis, RPSGT, CRTI have been a CPAP patient for 15 years. I became an RPSGT in 2002 after managing a DME office for many years and then managed several sleep clinics. I have often spoken to civic and church groups about OSA. My experience as a patient has helped me as a professional in sleep medicine to aid many patients in their struggles and problems with CPAP therapy.

Jim Grazis, RPSGT, CRT
The Villages Sleep Lab
The Villages, Florida (near Leesburg)

 
 
   
 

Thank you

Aileecia Geary, RPSGTI was recently certified as an RPSGT. This certification has opened up many opportunities already.  I recently became the new Clinical Coordinator for the Sleep Center where I work. This is an amazing opportunity for which I am grateful. Thank you for allowing me to share my story and thank you to Jean Lima, RPSGT, RRT, David LeBlanc RPSGT, and Cheryl Malmborg MSN, CRRN, CWOCN. Without these people I would not have come as far as I have.

Aileecia Geary, RPSGT
Sleep Disorder Center
Danvers, Massachussetts

 
 
   
 

Bless This Profession

Helen Leger, RPSGTI worked 30+ years in the Emergency Department as a Nursing Technician. I came to work with a great attitude.  There was always something missing in my career.  I  never felt appreciated.  When I gave my notice, the staff told me I would be bored at the sleep center. It wasn’t until I became an RPSGT that I felt fulfilled. The patients have made me feel like I have made a difference in their treatment and the care they received. The continuing education is an advantage. I feel so blessed to be in this profession.

Helen Leger, RPSGT
Sleep Center of Maine
Bangor, Maine

 
 
   
 

From Nursing to Sleep Technology

Neil S. Friedman, RN, RPSGTWhat started as an accident became my passion. In 1992, I began nursing school. At that time, I was asked if I would like to learn “sleep.” Since the schedule dovetailed with nursing school, I jumped at the opportunity. I attended classes and clinical rotations while concurrently working in a sleep center. I was able to view both professions side by side. I realized that in sleep I was able to develop strong patient relationships and receive immediate feedback. Improving someone’s life with a quality titration hooked me. I completed my nursing program and brought that knowledge to sleep.  

Neil S. Friedman, RN, RPSGT
Adult Sleep Disorder Center
Pediatric Sleep Disorder Center
Morristown Memorial Hospital
Morristown, New Jersey

 
 
   
 

Lifesaver

Tony Blevins, RPSGTMy most difficult patient was a 6’4” male weighing 476 lbs, in his mid-30s.  After his brother had died from sleep apnea, this patient put on 150 lbs and basically stopped caring and gave up on life. He set two records for me during his PSG.  He had a 2:14 minute OSA, and his oxygen level dropped to 17.  I made it my personal mission to save him. After a year of treatment, I retitrated him.  He’d lost 60 lbs, and was back to his old self.  He told me I'd saved his life.

Tony Blevins, RPSGT 
Parkridge East Hospital
Sleep Well Center 
Chattanooga, Tennessee and
Premier Sleep Diagnostic Center
Ft. Oglethorpe, GA 

 
 
   
 

Eyes Open

The responses vary among patients when they first wake up. Most, after diagnostic are indifferent with good reason. We have intruded upon their normal sleep with all our wires and stuff.  A dainty little lady (who had seen many years pass by), informed me as I removed our stuff: "I am going to start doing all those things you had me do last night every night." Confused, I asked her to explain. She said: "I slept so well last night -- much better than usual. Now when I go to bed, I'll do those exercises we did last night -- eyes closed, eyes open, look left, right, left, right...!”   

Keith Cross, RRT, RPSGT
Sleep Disorders Lab of St. Francis
St. Francis Hospital
Columbus, Georgia

 
 
 

Now and Then

Liza Berdnik, RPSGT

Liza is an artist, but this portrait of her wearing a sleep mask was painted by artist friend Sophia Allison.

 

My sleep career could be expressed in dog years because what feels to be only a handful of years is in fact nearly twenty!  My education was strongly grounded in analog such as the towering Grass EEG machine with clunky, removable amplifiers.  The plastic wand made a “kerchunk” when I punched in my montage.  Why did that box swing so precariously?  Staying awake was never difficult for me, but there was so much technical information to absorb.  The scratchy lines and prophetic patterns on the paper were a new language.  The mass of pens collided when a patient moved abruptly and I often attended the morning meetings covered in ink.  Fortunately, computers have replaced polygraphs and sleep labs are now quieter and cleaner.  The snores bellow on and therefore, I still throw on my scrubs and do my small part to help the world breathe easier.

Liza Berdnik, RPSGT
Sleep Disorders Center
Morristown Memorial Hospital
Morristown, New Jersey

 
 
 
 


 
 
 
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