Clinical Sleep Health Specialists – 2020 State of the Industry Survey Findings

By Jessica Schmidt, MA, FACHE, RPSGT, CCSH
BRPT Past-President

The BRPT recently conducted a survey of all its credential holders to get a better understanding of the current state of the clinical sleep health industry. We asked a broad range of questions including, how sleep specialists entered the profession, how long they’ve been in the field and in what capacity. We also asked them to share their thoughts on where the profession is headed, how long they plan to stay in sleep as well as reasons for why they would leave the profession. It’s important to note that this survey was conducted in January and February of 2020 before the coronavirus global pandemic became the new normal for many of us.

We had a terrific response to the survey with more than 1,400 respondents. We also gleaned some fantastic insights – far too many to share in one blog post. Below are some of the top-line highlights that paint the general landscape. Future blog posts will delve into specific issues sleep professionals face and their thoughts and concerns on where the industry is headed. Finally, we learned of some misperceptions around the BRPT’s role, which we’ll work to clarify.

A Summary of Top Line Findings

• There were a total of 1,403 respondents; more than 70 percent of whom have been in sleep for more than 10 years.
Half of all respondents are between the ages of 30-50.
• More than 60 percent entered the field through on the job training.
Forty percent of respondents work in community hospitals; nearly 20 percent work in free standing labs.
• We saw an almost even split between night shift workers (50 percent) and day shift workers (48 percent).
• Most respondents feel that home sleep testing is growing but they are fairly split on whether or not it’s hurting their business.
• Patient staffing ratios generally fall in the two patients per technologist ratio.
• More than half of the respondents work 12 hour shifts.
• When asked: In your lab, how are studies scored; 40.5 percent said studies are scored on the fly/at night while 64.2 percent answered during the day by a different technologist.
Twelve percent of respondents hold the CCSH credential; when asked in a later question: If you don’t already have the CCSH credential, 31 percent of respondents said they intend to obtain it. Note: 98 percent of all respondents hold the RPSGT credential.

Why It Matters
I was heartened to see these data and other insights offered. First of all, it’s clear that sleep is not strictly a field of “night shift” workers. Many of the techs working days are doing more DME and physician office support. Secondly, when asked what would cause respondents to leave the field – nearly 70 percent stated retirement as their primary reason. And thirdly, when asked to describe the vitality of their work setting, more than half said they feel it is strong with a promising future.

Stay tuned for the next installment of The State of the Industry!

Jessica Schmidt is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and serves as a Senior Administrator at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, where she oversees the Department of Medicine. She is also the co-founder of integrativealchemists.com where she provides Sleep Health Education as well as regular blog updates on topics relevant to general health and wellness from an Integrative perspective.

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