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Polysomnography is a clinical diagnostic test that measures neurological and physiological changes during sleep. Professionals who administer tests, make observations, and analyze results are called polysomnography technicians and technologists. In order to ensure that workers are fully prepared to conduct studies, detailed polysomnography training and education are required by most employers. A person who is interested in pursuing polysomnography training can look into accredited two-year programs at universities, community colleges, and allied health schools. With a degree and several weeks of on-the-job training, a new professional can enjoy a fulfilling, interesting career in the field.
Some private and hospital labs will hire high school graduates with no formal polysomnography training. The majority of employers, however, require applicants to hold degrees in a closely-related specialty. Associate's degree programs in polysomnography, biomedical technology, and clinical lab technology can usually be completed in about two years. Shorter online programs are also available, but a prospective student should be careful to make sure online schools have the appropriate accreditation. Information about different classes and programs can be found by visiting a school's website and speaking with academic advisers in person.
Once enrolled in a polysomnography training program, a person can expect to split his or her time between classroom instruction and hands-on lab work. In the classroom, a student learns about human anatomy and physiology, biological processes, math, and computer science. Lab training courses provide essential skills working directly with diagnostic testing equipment. An individual is tested on his or her understanding of clinical lab work protocol, research design, ethics, and scientific paper writing.
With a degree, a graduate can begin applying at hospitals, private research institutions, and university research centers. A new technician generally acts as an assistant for several weeks or months while still taking part in formal polysomnography training classes. After gaining some experience, many technicians decide to take certification tests offered by organizations such as the Association of Polysomnographic Technologists in the United States to improve their credentials. In addition, some countries have governing boards that provide official licensure to experienced polysomnography experts.
New technologies and research techniques are constantly emerging in sleep science. A technologist can expect to spend a lot of time reading up on recent studies and participating in continuing education courses throughout his or her career. With ongoing training and experience, a technologist may eventually be given the freedom to design and lead groundbreaking independent studies.