A List Not to Miss

Vol. 16 •Issue 1 • Page 14
Sleep Tracks

A List Not to Miss

Ten things RPSGTs need to know about recertification.

Effective Jan. 1, every registered polysomnographic technologist must recertify every five years in order to maintain the right to use the credential. But relax; you don’t have to re-take the RPSGT exam — unless you want to.

In fact, even though re-taking the exam is one way to recertify, the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists prefers you follow the continuing education route.

Continuing education is the reason the BRPT has mandated the recertification policy. In a field that’s changing as rapidly as sleep medicine, recertification by continuing education will help ensure the highest quality of care for patients suffering from sleep disorders, said BRPT President Bonnie Robertson, RPSGT, CRT.

“We also have a responsibility to maintain the reputation of the RPSGT credential as the gold standard,” she said. “That’s how we serve our certificants and patients best.”

“Best practices” in credentialing today dictate a recertification program that applies to all, with “grandfathering” being phased out, Robertson added.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the RPSGT recertification policy:

1. The bottom line

There are two ways to recertify. You can earn 50 continuing education hours in five years, or you can re-take and pass the RPSGT exam. The BRPT predicts that most certificants will opt for the former.

It’s critical that you understand this: You need to earn a minimum of five continuing education hours each year, but the BRPT recommends you earn 10. This way, you pace yourself evenly throughout the five-year recertification period with an equal number of credits each year.

The “minimum of five” requirement is just a way of the BRPT acknowledging that sometimes illness, maternity leave, and care giving might make it difficult to earn 10 continuing education hours in a particular year, so they’ve provided a little cushion.

But think twice before using this cushion. If you only earn five in one year, you’ll be required to make it up.

2. What counts

National, regional, state, and local sleep or sleep-related programs, particularly those offered by the American Association of Sleep Technologists (formerly the Association of Polysomnographic Technologists) and other credit-granting organizations, are valid toward recertification. If approved by a credit-granting organization, case conference or in-service programs apply as well.

RPSGTs from rural communities, take heart. You also can earn hours by reading the BRPT-approved journals (such as A2Zzz and the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine) and Web-based programs from the AAST, the American Association for Respiratory Care, and the American College of Chest Physicians. The BRPT expects the list of opportunities to grow.

3. Finding continuing ed opportunities

The Web sites of the AAST and BRPT (www.aastweb.org, www.brpt.org) have special continuing education sections. While there are limited listings now, many more will be added over the next few years.

If a program you would like to attend isn’t listed, contact the sponsoring organization directly to find out if it has or will be applying for credit. If the course is offered by a credit-granting organization such as the AAST, AARC, American Medical Association, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists, British Sleep Society, European Sleep Research Society, or Asian Sleep Research Society, and the course material is sleep-related, it’s most likely valid.

In cases where only part of the course meets the applicability of being related to the duties of a polysomnographic technologist, you may earn partial credit. For courses where the content isn’t clear from the certificate copy, it would be wise to attach a course content document or course outline to your recertification application.

4. Where you earn hours

You can earn all 50 of the credits you need at national, regional, state, or local sleep-related programs, including non-biased manufacturer-sponsored courses.

However, you can’t earn all your credits from other types of programs. For instance, only 10 of the 50 credits can come from case conference or in-service programs. Only 15 may be earned from reading approved journals (and doing reading assessments), and up to 30 continuing education hours may be derived from online training modules such as Web-based seminars. See the BRPT’s Web site for more details.

5. Multipurpose credits

If you need to acquire continuing education credits for another credential (nursing, respiratory), you may be able to use the same credits toward both credentials, thereby eliminating the need to double your credit-load.

By the same token, if you currently work at an accredited sleep lab, some or all of the 10 credits per year you’re already required to earn also may be used toward your RPSGT recertification (if they’re approved by a continuing education credit-approval organization).

6. Tracking credits

Each certificant is responsible for maintaining a record of the number of continuing education hours accrued during his or her five-year cycle, including dates and documentation.

To make it easier, you can download a recertification tracking sheet at www.brpt.org. Annual reporting isn’t required. The BRPT anticipates that some organizations such as the AAST may eventually maintain databases of continuing education hours to make the tracking process easier.

7. The recertification application

Soon, a downloadable recertification application form will be available from the BRPT. At the time your recertification is due, you’ll need to submit this form with required documentation and a $100 recertification fee to the BRPT.

You can’t apply for recertification sooner than six months prior to your actual recertification date.

8. Your recertification date

If you passed the RPSGT exam after Jan. 1, 2006, your official recertification due date is five years from the date of the score report. If you’re one of many RPSGTs who voluntarily switched early to the five-year plan (by submitting an early switch form), then your five-year period began on the date you made the switch.

For all others, your recertification cycle began Jan. 1, 2007. All recertification dates are five years from the date you entered into the recertification program in order to maintain your credential.

9. The new BRPT Registry

Changes to the official BRPT Registry come with the changes in recertification. . The Registry, available at www.brpt.org, now will include the names of all registered RPSGTs who have met recertification requirements.

In addition, the names of those RPSGTs with suspended or revoked credentials due to sanctions will be listed indicating such.

10. Have questions

Does BRPT have your current e-mail address? If not, you may be missing some real benefits, including updated information and a subscription to the BRPT Insider Newsletter. Stay in the loop by signing up at www.brpt.org.

If you need help understanding the recertification requirements, go to the BRPT’s Web site and read two important documents: “Recertification Guidelines” and “Recertification Frequently Asked Questions.” If you still have questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (703) 610-9020.

Helen Sullivan is communications director of the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists.