History of the AAST

American Association of Sleep Technologists
American Association for Respiratory Care
American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists

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History of the AAST

Postby Mairi2 » Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:34 pm

I know there's a few us us old timers around here - I got this from Marietta Bibbs today - someone whom I hold in the highest regard. If you can help, please do so!

Dear Colleague:

I am sure that you have seen the information below that was sent out yesterday. Some of the information in this article seems to be a bit inaccurate to me. I would like your input on the information presented in this website post. Would you say that it is accurate as far as best you can recall? Your input is most appreciated and will be held confidential.

Kindest regards,


Marietta B. Bibbs, BA, RPSGT

Phone: 727-725-6455

Fax: 727-725-6452

Cell Phone: 727-608-7611

email: marietta.bibbs@baycare.org


The Formation and Development of the AAST: From 1978 to 2011
This overview describes the establishment, growth and development of the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), which began as the Association of Polysomnographic Technologists (APT) in 1978. Today the AAST remains dedicated to promoting and advancing the sleep technology profession while meeting the professional and educational needs of more than 5,000 members.

Establishing a Foundation
The AAST was formed when about 30 to 40 sleep technologists gathered in April 1978 for an organizational meeting, hoping to establish an association that would promote their professional identity and provide opportunities for advancement. Most of these individuals were research technologists; at the time there were only six sleep disorders centers in the country. The group elected Peter A. McGregor as chairperson of the Steering Committee for this new “Association of Polysomnographic Technologists.”

One of the association’s first initiatives was to establish an education and examination board, which was named the “American Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists.” In October 1979 the first ABRPT exam was held at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. A handful of sleep technologists took the exam to earn the registered polysomnographic technologist credential, with McGregor receiving RPSGT credential #001.

In 1981 the APT held its first national election, with members electing McGregor as APT president and Mark Reitman as chairperson of the ABRPT. One of the primary concerns at that time was to define the relationship between the two organizations. Ultimately, it was decided that it was too soon for the APT and ABRPT to be able to thrive as separate and independent entities. So the ABRPT continued to function as the Examination Committee of the APT, and for the next two decades the APT provided the financial support for the development and administration of the RPSGT exam.

By the fall of 1982, the APT had 82 active members, and there were 26 RPSGTs who had been credentialed by the APT Examination Committee, which had simplified its name from ABRPT to BRPT. In 1983 Sharon Keenan succeeded McGregor as APT president, a position she held until 1991. Also in 1983, Cynthia Mattice became chairperson of the BRPT. The foundation for the future of the sleep technology profession had been established.

Managing Transitions
During the next decade the APT rapidly grew as members volunteered their time and contributed their talents to help advance the association. To meet the growing needs of the organization and its members, the APT contracted with Applied Measurement Professionals in Lenexa, Kan., for full-time administrative and management services.

Each year the APT Annual Meeting grew in significance, with more than 450 individuals attending the 1998 APT Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. With the profession flourishing, the APT leadership decided that it was an opportune time to bolster the long-term visibility and credibility of the RPSGT credential by establishing the BRPT as an independent credentialing body, which would help sleep technology gain recognition from other allied health professions.

It was agreed that a major step toward the achievement of this goal would be for the BRPT to earn accreditation from the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The NCCA required that applicant certifying boards be incorporated, and it stipulated that they must be independent in decision-making for all matters pertaining to certification without being subject to approval by any other body.

Therefore, the APT board of directors developed a 12-month plan for the BRPT to become an independent organization and provided funds to the BRPT as part of a separation agreement. The BRPT was incorporated in 1999 and assumed sole responsibility for the administration of the RPSGT examination beginning with the June 2000 exam before earning NCCA accreditation in 2002.

In 2003 it became clear to the APT board of directors that it needed to re-evaluate its management arrangement with Applied Measurement Professionals. After examining service and cost proposals from several organizations, the APT board of directors voted to contract with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) for management services. Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, the AASM started providing services for the APT such as office administration, accounting, website development and maintenance, marketing, graphic design, and communications. The APT national office moved to Westchester, Ill., and in 2010 it relocated to its current headquarters in nearby Darien, Ill.

The synergy created by this new management agreement sparked one of the most significant periods of growth for the APT, which had less than 2,000 members in 2003. The membership grew to its current total of more than 5,000 individuals, and significant advances were made in the areas of standardizing education, promoting licensure, continuing education, and supporting professional pathways.

Standardizing Education
By 2002 the respiratory care community in many states was challenging the right of sleep technologists to perform polysomnography and other technical evaluations for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with sleep disorders. The APT leadership understood that the establishment of standardized education programs would be necessary for sleep technology to gain widespread recognition as a separate and distinct allied health profession.

So in 2002 the APT joined the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) as an associate member. During the next year the APT intensified its efforts to develop the administrative network, policies, standards and guidelines, curriculum and syllabus that an accreditation committee would require.

On April 12, 2003, at its annual business meeting in St. Louis, Mo., CAAHEP approved the APT’s request to be eligible to participate in the CAAHEP system and to form a Committee on Accreditation for Polysomnographic Technologist Education (CoA PSG). The CAAHEP commissioners also approved the AASM and BRPT as sponsoring organizations for CoA PSG.

On April 24, 2004, the CAAHEP Standards Committee recommended approval of the Standards and Guidelines of Educational Programs in Polysomnographic Technology, which were developed by CoA PSG. In 2006 the first programs in polysomnographic technology were accredited by CAAHEP on the recommendation of CoA PSG, and today there are 32 CAAHEP-accredited sleep technology programs.

Promoting Licensure
The formal recognition of sleep technology training programs was critical to the legislative defense of the profession in numerous states, and the APT continued this effort in the years that followed by investing more than $250,000 in the legislative defense of the profession of sleep technology. With input from staff in the national office and the Governmental Affairs Committee, the board of directors monitored current scope of practice issues and acted to educate elected officials and regulatory agencies about the practice of sleep technology.

The APT’s efforts came to fruition June 29, 2005, when Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco signed HB 883 into law, making Louisiana the first state in the nation to pass a full licensure law for sleep technology. Following this precedent, licensure laws were passed in New Jersey that December, in Maryland in May 2006, and in Tennessee in June 2007. Today there also are laws that provide sleep technologists a specific licensing/certification pathway in the District of Columbia and four other states: California, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia.

The effort to educate political leaders and other organizations about the profession was given a boost when members voted in 2006 to change the association’s name from the APT to the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST). The change acknowledged that the practice of sleep technology is not limited to the performance of polysomnography, but also includes other methodological skills used in the education, evaluation, treatment and follow-up of patients with sleep disorders.

In recent years the AAST partnered with the AASM to help sleep professionals promote and protect the profession at the local level by uniting to form state sleep societies. AAST members have enthusiastically participated in this initiative and are involved in each of the 43 state sleep societies that currently exist.

Continuing Education
The AAST is the leader in providing professional education opportunities for sleep technologists, and in recent years it has expanded its educational offerings to help members of all experience levels maintain the highest standards of excellence in the practice of sleep technology.

The AAST annual meeting has become the premier educational event for the profession, attracting more than 1,000 attendees annually. Each year since 2006, the AAST Program Committee has issued a call for proposals, giving members the opportunity to help shape the meeting’s educational content by submitting session proposals.

In 2001 the AAST established its continuing education credit (CEC) program, which gives educational providers an opportunity to apply to award AAST CECs to the attendees of their educational offerings. The program became of vital importance in 2002 when the BRPT began to require continuing education as part of its new recertification program, and it has grown in the years since. Today the CEC Program includes in-service meetings and case conferences, lectures and workshops, educational programs, webinars, pre-recorded learning activities, and articles in A2Zzz, the official magazine of the AAST and the leading publication for sleep technologists. In 2003 there were 145 educational activities offered through the AAST CEC program; in 2010 there were more than 2,200 CEC activities.

The AAST continued to provide in-depth learning opportunities for both new and veteran sleep technologists by developing the Advances in Sleep Technology course and offering four courses at the AAST Annual Meeting. Today the AAST provides learning opportunities in multiple formats, including online practice exams and learning modules.

In May 2007 the publication of the comprehensive Fundamentals of Sleep Technology, First Edition textbook was a milestone for the AAST and a defining moment for the profession. By developing other resources such as the AAST Policy and Procedure Manual, the Fundamentals of Sleep Technology – Preparing for Certification review course, and the 2010 Salary and Benefits Survey, the AAST continues to equip members with the highest-quality educational resources.

Supporting Professional Pathways
As the entire field of sleep medicine continued to grow, and legislative and regulatory requirements became more prevalent, the AAST supported the development of multiple educational and credentialing pathways to help meet the increasing demand for trained and skilled sleep technologists. In addition to leading the effort to establish CoA PSG as part of the CAAHEP system, the AAST supported the creation of the AASM’s Accredited Sleep Technologist Education Program (A-STEP). This program has helped meet the immediate educational needs of the profession while programs work toward earning CAAHEP accreditation.

Having developed and administered the RPSGT exam for two decades, the AAST has always supported credentialing pathways that promote educational, technical and clinical excellence in sleep disorders. Today the AAST encourages members to pursue the pathway that best meets their individual needs, including the BRPT’s certified polysomnographic technician (CPSGT) exam and the four pathways to eligibility for the RPSGT exam; the National Board for Respiratory Care’s specialty examination for respiratory therapists performing sleep disorders testing and therapeutic intervention; and the new sleep technologist certification examination that will be offered by the American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM).

Today the AAST and the profession of sleep technology are stronger than ever, and the future is bright as sleep technologists increasingly receive formal recognition as the professionals who assist in the evaluation and follow-up care of patients with sleep disorders. With a committed board of directors, a growing and involved membership, and a strong financial standing, the AAST is positioned to continue its successful efforts to promote and advance the sleep technology profession in the years ahead.
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Postby polysomprincess » Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:40 pm

fascinating... what publication was this in.?
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Postby respbarb » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:29 pm

it's on the AAST website. We got emails aout it.
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Postby polysomprincess » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:49 pm

hmm...i am wondering where my email is...
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Postby Amykr » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:10 am

I did not get the email either
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Postby oldsleeper » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:06 am

No email for me either...
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Postby strawberri » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:41 am

Received this email from AAST on 03-10:

A Message from the AAST President

Dear Member:

For 33 years the AAST has been the only professional society that is devoted exclusively to promoting and advancing the sleep technology profession. However, a recent AAST statement supporting multiple credentialing pathways for sleep technologists has led some individuals to question the AAST's commitment to the profession. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that the AAST is unwavering in its dedication to meeting members' needs while preserving the autonomy and future of the sleep technology profession.

The AAST's rich history is one of our strengths, fueling our passion and inspiring our dreams as we build on the firm foundation that was established by our visionary colleagues more than three decades ago. However, this longevity also can be a weakness. As the years pass, our memories of all that has been accomplished tend to fade. Furthermore, our rapidly growing profession has a constant influx of young colleagues who have no connection to the early days of the AAST.

Therefore, I think it is beneficial to revisit our history from time to time. Reminding ourselves of where we've been - and how we've arrived where we are today - will give us a better perspective of where we're going tomorrow.

I hope you will take the time to read "The Formation and Development of the AAST: From 1978 to 2011," a new document that is now available on the AAST Website. I'm confident that you will learn something new about how the AAST began and how it has advanced the profession of sleep technology during the last three decades. Here are a few highlights:

The AAST was informally established when about 30 to 40 sleep technologists gathered in April 1978 for an organizational meeting. Today, we are an organization of more than 5,000 sleep technologists.

In 2005 the AAST's efforts to preserve the autonomy and future of the profession led Louisiana to become the first state to pass a full licensure law for sleep technology. In five years, the AAAT has invested more than $250,000 to address licensure and regulatory issues in 22 states, and our efforts to safeguard the profession continue. The AAST also has played a vital role in helping sleep professionals unite at the local level, with 43 state sleep societies now actively promoting and protecting the profession.

The AAST has broadened educational opportunities for sleep technologists. The AAST continues to host multiple courses and e-learning opportunities that keep sleep technologists abreast of our dynamic profession. In 2007 the AAST worked in collaboration with Lippincott Williams & Wilkins to publish the Fundamentals of Sleep Technology, First Edition textbook, providing an invaluable resource for sleep technology. The annual meeting also has become the premier educational gathering for sleep technologists around the country. Our CEC program has expanded dramatically, with more than 2,200 activities offered in 2010 alone.

In 2003 the AAST became the first of the three founding member organizations of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) Committee on Accreditation for Polysomnographic Technologist Education (CoA PSG), and today there are 32 CAAHEP-accredited sleep technology programs. The AAST leadership understood that the establishment of formal education programs would be necessary for sleep technology to gain widespread recognition as a separate and distinct allied health profession, and today our representatives to the CoA PSG ensure that quality education programs are standardized for sleep technologists.

From 1978 to 1999, the AAST developed and administered the registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) exam, with the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) functioning as an AAST committee. In 1999 the AAST launched the BRPT as an independent organization.

Today the increased need for highly trained and skilled sleep technologists is at an all-time peak; therefore, the AAST supports multiple pathways for prospective sleep technologists entering the profession by providing additional educational opportunities and encourages techs to become credentialed for accreditation and legislative demands.

These are just a few highlights that illustrate how far the AAST has come. Much has been accomplished, and none of it would have been possible without the dedicated involvement of AAST members.

Your continued involvement as an AAST member is extremely valuable as together we work to promote and advance the sleep technology profession in the year ahead.


Cindy Kistner, BS, RPSGT, REEGT

AAST President
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Postby SCNVsleep » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:24 am

God, I can't wait until next week in NOLA
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Postby Jayhawkhenry » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:45 pm

I have only been a member since 1990 so I do not recall all of these things. I guess I was missed it. I know when my state society was formed the AAST/AASM was nowhere to be seen. I never saw the AAST handing out $250,000 to the state societies. I have only heard of the AASM passing out funds. :roll:
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