Education and training are the lifeblood of every medical specialty and subspecialty. Therefore, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) began to accredit fellowship training programs in sleep medicine more than 25 years ago, laying the groundwork for the 83 sleep medicine fellowship training programs that are accredited today by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
Remaining committed to fellowship training in sleep medicine, the AASM continues to organize the Sleep Medicine Fellowship Directors Council and administer the sleep medicine in-training exam. The AASM also encourages each of the training programs to participate in the annual Specialties Matching Service Fellowship Match, which is organized by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), a private, non-profit organization established in 1952.
Like the annual Main Residency Match, which many of us experienced when we applied for a residency position, the Specialties Matching Service fosters fairness in the selection process and creates an impartial venue for matching the preferences of applicants and program directors. Currently, the NRMP manages this process for more than 50 subspecialties, including sleep medicine.
I am pleased to report that the Match has been well-received by our fellowship training program directors, with the number of participating programs increasing from 53 in 2012 to 72 in the 2016 appointment year. I encourage you to mark your calendar for Nov. 2, 2016, which is Sleep Medicine Match Day for the 2017 appointment year. We should recognize this day and celebrate it as an annual rite of passage that is part of both the heritage and future of our field.
Before this Match Day, however, residents must determine that the field of sleep medicine is the right choice for them. To help educate residents, and medical students, about the rewarding potential of a career in sleep medicine, the AASM recently launched the Choose Sleep website, which features content developed by the AASM Education Committee. Those of you who are on Twitter can support this initiative by tweeting your advice and encouragement to medical students, residents and fellows using the hashtag: #ChooseSleep.
Finally, in advance of SLEEP 2016 in Denver, the AASM invited residents and fellows from each of sleep medicine’s parent specialties to attend the meeting for free. So far 105 young physicians have accepted this offer, and the AASM will be hosting a meeting for them in Denver to introduce them to the field of sleep medicine. Perhaps the SLEEP meeting will act as a matchmaker, providing the perfect environment in which these residents and fellows can make a decision to choose sleep.
Nathaniel F. Watson, MD, MSc