Top 5 Characteristics of Successful Sleep Technicians

What makes sleep technicians suitable for the important role they play in your organization? They have certain characteristics which set them apart and help them provide the care patients require. These traits allow them to deal with different situations in a sleep center. 

1. Attention to Detail

Successful sleep technicians have the ability to pay attention to detail. This skill is required for almost every task they undertake. It helps them:

  • Determine whether a patient is eligible for a test.
  • Find out if a patient is uncomfortable during a test.
  • Decide whether a home test will be suitable or not. Some patients may request tests at home. In that case, the sleep technician will have to decide whether the patient is a suitable candidate for a home test.
  • Take notes and maintain records of all the important data from every study. In addition to this, they will also have to present observational reports. This requires sleep technicians to pay attention to patient behavior at the time of test. 
  • Determine whether a test has been successful. The sleep technician takes several factors into consideration when determining this. For instance, a patient may have been unable to fall asleep for long during a study. Instead of suggesting that he go in for a second study, the technician will have to consider the results from the first. 
  • Quickly pick up on issues with the equipment during a test. Sleep technicians also have the skills to understand where an issue stems from and how to trouble-shoot it.
  • Maintain a detailed log of all the events and interventions conducted in the laboratory.

2. Compassion

Everyday, technicians deal with patients with sleep conditions that make them difficult to handle. With compassion, they can better deal with such patients. Some patients present a number of problems stemming from sleep conditions. Some are fatigue, cognitive impairment, lapses of memory, impaired judgment, malaise, tremors, hallucinations and confusion. 

Even when a patient is being difficult, a compassionate sleep technician can understand the reason behind it. This will allow him to interact with the patient and provide care without being judgmental. A compassionate sleep technician can make a patient feel understood. This can go a long way in making the patient feel comfortable with the technician. Research shows that some patients refuse to go for sleep study or treatment if they feel that a technician is judging them. 

3. Technical Know-How

Sleep technicians have the technical know-how required to conduct sleep studies. They have to pass certification examinations to get hired by an accredited sleep center. Here are some of the technical aspects that certified sleep technicians have to know:

  • Administering a standard polysomnography test.
  • Using specialized equipment for assessing vital body states and functions like oral and nasal airflow, electric potentials from eyes, brain and skeletal muscle activity and esophageal Ph.
  • Making observations based on a number of parameters pertaining to the wakefulness and sleep states of the patients. 
  • Performing tests on cognitive abilities of patients who experience clinical seizures.
  • Recognizing a crisis in the laboratory or an emergency health issue in patients and responding to them. For instance, a sleep technician will know how to assist with or perform basic CPR if required. The technician will also be aware of the standard protocol to be followed even after a crisis has passed. 
  • Ensuring that instruments and equipments are performing properly before they are used for a test. 

4. Administration Skills

Sleep technicians generally have good administration skills. They should remain in control of a situation and handle multiple tasks simultaneously. They meet patients and interact with them on a regular basis. When patients or physicians request information, technicians should be able to provide it. Depending on the situation, the data may have to be retrieved from a system or generated afresh. The technicians also have to know how to use a filing system for storing important information.

5. Communication Skills

Of all the characteristics in a sleep technician, the ability to communicate effectively is the most important. Sleep technicians should have good verbal and written communication skills. There are three groups of people with whom a sleep technician interacts on a regular basis at a sleep center. They are - patients, primary healthcare providers and other sleep technicians.

With primary health care providers, sleep technicians have to discuss the core issues diagnosed in a sleep study. They have to make recommendations based on the diagnosis. Sleep technicians have to communicate with peers when they work together on a case. They also have to inform patients about the steps in the sleep study and related interventions. Sleep technicians will also have to reassure patients about the fact that sleep studies are safe.

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