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CCCC Sleep Disorders Tech program reaccredited

CCCC Sleep Disorders Tech program reaccredited

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Central Carolina Community College Sleep Disorders Technician student Sheila Barnes (center) attac ... (more)

03.26.2014Admin, Faculty & StaffCollege & CommunityCollege GeneralCurriculum Programs

SILER CITY - Central Carolina Community College's Sleep Disorders Technician program has been awarded a five-year re-approval of accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

The CAAHEP is the nationally recognized accrediting agency for programs training health care professionals. The five-year re-approval, through 2019, is the highest it awards to Sleep Disorder Technician (also known as Polysomnographic Technician) programs.

There are only 45 CAAHEP-accredited Sleep Technician programs in the nation. CCCC is one of only five North Carolina community colleges with a CAAHEP-accredited one. It is the only community college in the nation to offer the training through continuing education, rather than as a curriculum program.

"The CAAHEP accreditation was a rigorous process," said Heike Johnson, the college's medical programs coordinator in Chatham County. "We are delighted that our program has received this recognition of its excellence. There is a growing demand for trained technicians. I receive calls from many students from surrounding counties that are interested in this program."

The CAAHEP accreditation means that program graduates are eligible to take the national board exam to become a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT). In North Carolina, only technologists with the RPSGT registration are allowed to perform sleep studies and only if they are registered with the state medical board.

Sleep disorder technicians and technologists monitor heart activity, breathing, and limb movements as subjects sleep. Electrodes are attached at 21 places on the head and body to supply information about brain wave, nerve and muscle impulses to a computer.

A polysomnogram is created with multiple graphs indicating what is happening in the brain and body. A physician who is a specialist in sleep disorders uses the information to determine if a disorder exists and possible treatment.

"There are approximately 90 sleep disorders," said George Zwilling, CCCC program instructor. He is a registered Polysomnographic Technologist and a member of the Carolina Sleep Society, American Association of Sleep Technologists, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

"The most common sleep disorder is insomnia," Zwilling said, "but the one seen most frequently in sleep disorders laboratories is obstructive sleep apnea, where the person's upper airway becomes occluded, preventing inhalation. This strains the heart and can lead to hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, right-sided heart failure and death."

An estimated 50-70 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep loss and sleep disorders that hinder daily functioning and adversely affect health and longevity, according to the national Institute of Medicine. The disorders are treatable with lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, or breathing aids such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.

CCCC launched its Sleep Disorders Technician program in the fall of 2005. To be accepted into the program, an applicant must already be an experienced health care professional, such as a nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, paramedic, EEG or EKG technician, respiratory therapist, or registered nurse. They must also hold CPR certification.

The college's program is 300 hours long, about five months of training. It runs twice yearly at its Siler City Center. There are 100 class hours, 72 lab hours, four hours of professional enhancement and 124 externship hours.

To be accepted, a person must be a high school graduate, registered or certified in an allied health field, and have 1,000 hours of direct patient care within a year of taking the class.

For more information about CCCC's Sleep Disorders Technician program, contact Heike Johnson at 919-545-8682, or by email at hjohn365@cccc.edu.

For more information on sleep disorders, visit the National Sleep Foundation's web site, www.sleepfoundation.org, the Institute of Medicine at www.iom.edu, or the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, www.aasmnet.org. For more information on the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, visit its web site, www.caahep.org.