One of the main priorities of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is to foster the continued growth and development of an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved one-year sleep fellowship programs and increase the number of board-certified sleep medicine physicians (BCSMPs). The aspirational goal is to maximize the supply of BCSMPs to ensure the availability of quality care for all patients who have a sleep-wake disorder. Opportunities to do so still exist.
Recently, the AASM surveyed the University of Michigan’s first- and second-year medical students regarding their understanding of the potential for a career in sleep medicine. More than half were unaware that sleep medicine is an independent ABMS medical specialty.
One of the challenges for young physicians who consider a career in sleep medicine is a lack of understanding of what the career entails and what types of practice models exist. This uncertainty may deter them from choosing a sleep medicine career. To address this issue, the AASM developed the website Choosesleep.org, which offers a broad overview of a sleep medicine career, including the diverse pathophysiology of sleep disorders, an explanation of various career types, a discussion of emerging sleep technologies, and details on how to become board certified.
In addition, a resource containing all identifiable practice types, including research, is under development to help young physicians and scientists better map out their future in sleep medicine. The Twitter hashtag #ChooseSleep is being used as part of a social media strategy to generate a conversation about sleep medicine career opportunities and the importance of sleep for health and well-being.
Specialty-specific interest groups at medical schools across the nation provide a forum for like-minded medical students to meet and explore professional interests and career opportunities. These interest groups educate students on how to pursue specific careers in medicine and explain the nuts and bolts of what these careers entail. Such groups could provide an opportunity to recruit young physicians into the field of sleep medicine. In 2016, the AASM piloted sleep medicine interest groups (SMIGs) at six medical schools across the country, and this year the number of medical schools with a SMIG quickly grew to 18.
In addition, the AASM is tracking all legislation to identify any funding bill that contains action related to GME funding. Our political action committee is prepared to engage a coalition of legislators and groups representing other medical specialties with ACGME-approved training programs in opposition to any proposed cuts to GME funding.
Current federal legislation of interest to the Academy is the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act. The bill, supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, would increase, by 15,000, the number of Medicare direct graduate medical education (DGME) and indirect medical education (IME) slots; require the National Health Care Workforce Commission to submit a report to Congress, identifying physician shortage specialties; and require the Government Accountability Office study on strategies for increasing health professional workforce diversity.