New Sleep Diagnostics Center
Sleep is critical for human survival. A lack of proper sleep can lead to health problems and make life miserable. Volunteer State Community College students have a new facility, opened this year, to help them learn how to conduct sleep studies. The Sleep Diagnostics Center at Vol State has two specially designed sleep study rooms, a control room, video and audio monitors, and other state-of-the-art equipment.
“I think if people learn how sleep affects them on their job, we can help them,” said student Feltonia Smith of Lebanon. “It affects your health. It can cause diabetes, heart disease, things like that.”
Also called polysomnography, a sleep study involves wiring a patient to monitors that record brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rhythms, respiratory data, snoring, body positioning, and eye and leg movements.
For Smith, sleep problems are something she knows about, intimately. “Several years ago I had sleep apnea and my husband has sleep apnea now,” said Smith. “I’m interested in how it affects my day to day life.”
“Part of it is showing patients how they can sleep better and how much better they can feel- instead of zombie-like,” said student Eric Williams of Nashville.
Sleep Diagnostics Director, Mel Matthews, says the job prospects for Polysomnographic Technologists are good. “We’ve been able to place just about everyone who wants a job,” said Matthews. “And the program in West Tennessee is completely wide open in regards to the job market.”
Most of the Vol State classes are conducted online, providing an increased flexibility for students. The Middle Tennessee area students then come to the Gallatin campus to use the Sleep Diagnostics Center for hands-on work. West Tennessee students do clinical work at professional sites in the area. Vol State offers a one-year technical certificate that can also lead to a two-year associate of applied science degree in health sciences.
“We’re going to have three different in-lab software platforms here and two different home equipment set-ups, as well. Students can get experience here on different types of equipment, before going out into the field. It’s a competitive program to get into,” said Matthews.
Matthews recommends that interested students take, and do well in, the Medical Terminology class at Vol State, while also showing good grades in math, science, and computer courses, to make their application stronger. The application deadline for the program itself is October 1. Students can apply now for Vol State fall classes. For more information, visit www.volstate.edu/sleep.
Pictured: Student Eric Williams of Nashville is prepped for a sleep study by fellow students (left) Brittany Patton of Chattanooga and (right) Donna Fletcher of Mt. Juliet