Revolutionary New Sleep Medicine Course Allows Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to Treat Sleep Medicine Patients

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The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine announced today its new sleep medicine course designed specifically for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. This course is the first of its kind and will provide Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants with the knowledge they need to recognize and diagnose sleep disorders. The class runs from October 24-25, 2009 and will offer continuing education credits.

Michael Lacey, MD, D.ABSM

Training NPs and PAs makes them a more valuable asset to any primary care physicians practice, including subspecialties that commonly incorporate sleep medicine such as Neurology, Pulmonary, ENT, and Cardiology.

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The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine announced today its new sleep medicine course designed specifically for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. This course is the first of its kind and will provide Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants with the knowledge they need to recognize and diagnose sleep disorders. The class runs from October 24-25, 2009 and will offer continuing education credits.

Dr. Michael Lacey, a board certified sleep doctor and instructor at the school, decided to develop the curriculum after realizing that Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants are increasingly important components of physician's practices.

According to recent estimates from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the number of nurse practitioners in the United States has increased by nearly 40 percent during the last five years. Meanwhile, the employment of physician assistants is expected to grow 27 percent from 2006 to 2016 according to research by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most experts believe that the increases in these two professions have been prompted by the shortage of primary care physicians.

Despite their increasing importance in healthcare, Dr. Lacey says, "Neither group (NPs and PAs) is exposed to sleep medicine as part of their basic core curriculum, so I felt a course in sleep medicine would enhance their knowledge while improving overall patient care in their practices. I think some (NPs and PAs) may even choose to make sleep medicine their niche."

With this course and others, the Atlanta School has positioned itself as a leader in identifying and developing innovative educational courses for specialized populations. Gail Reid, the program manager of the Atlanta Sleep School, says, "Although sleep medicine is not a recognized specialty for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, it certainly could be sometime in the near future. It is part of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine's mission to educate physicians as well as allied healthcare professionals in the practice of sleep disorders medicine and we believe that this course contributes significantly to this mission."

Teaching NPs and PAs more about the field of sleep medicine will benefit them and their practice by allowing them to treat more disorders knowledgably. Dr. Lacey says, "Training NPs and PAs makes them a more valuable asset to any primary care physicians practice, including subspecialties that commonly incorporate sleep medicine such as Neurology, Pulmonary, ENT, and Cardiology."

The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine knows from experience that PAs and NPs are interested in learning about sleep medicine since they have frequently enrolled in the school's sleep medicine course for physicians. Ludmilla R. Peller, a Nurse Practitioner in Minneapolis found the sleep course very beneficial, "I work in a sleep and pulmonary practice with 90% of my patients being seen for sleep issues. I do mostly follow up of CPAP, but also work with Insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome and Narcolepsy patients. The (physician) class was very helpful as an overview for me, especially as I had no sleep background at that time. I still have my manual and refer to it often."

Patricia Benson, a Family Nurse Practitioner at a Sleep Disorders Center in Virginia said, "I see patients for initial evaluation and follow up of any sleep disorders. I attended the Atlanta Sleep School's physician program shortly after starting here (at the Sleep Disorders Center) and found it very helpful in getting up and running."

By taking this course, NPs and PAs will be exposed to a wide array of sleep disorders, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, Restless Legs Syndrome, Parasomnias, Narcolepsy, and others. In the class, they will learn the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of all of these disorders. They will also learn the legal aspects of dealing with dangerously sleepy patients.

In the March issue of Sleep Review Magazine, Dr. Michael Lacey wrote more in depth about the increasing need for NPs and PAs in sleep medicine clinics in his guest editorial entitled, 'Making the Most of Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants'.

During the next few months, the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Technology will host two sleep medicine dinner seminars for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in the Atlanta area. These programs will offer continuing education credit. Please call (678)651-2000 or email laura.baareman@sleepschool.com for more information.

About The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine
Since 1992, the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine & Technology in Atlanta has offered introductory and review courses for more than 5,000 physicians and health care professionals in sleep medicine and polysomnography. Four-day introductory courses are designed for physicians and 80-hour courses, which include an online component, are designed for technologists and allied health care professionals. The Atlanta School also offers special topics including board reviews, pediatric sleep, and business practices for sleep centers. For more information about the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine, please visit the school's web site at http://www.sleepschool.com. Media Contact: Laura Baareman, laura.baareman@sleepschool.com, The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Technology, (770)883-6679.

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