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Volume 10 No. 05
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Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants in Sleep Centers and Clinics: A Survey of Current Roles and Educational Background

Loretta Colvin, M.S., A.P.R.N.-B.C.1; Ann Cartwright, M.P.A.S., P.A.-C.2; Nancy Collop, M.D., F.A.A.S.M.3; Neil Freedman, M.D., F.A.A.S.M.4; Don McLeod, P.A.-C.5; Terri E. Weaver, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.6; Ann E. Rogers, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.S.M.7
1Clayton Sleep Institute, St. Louis, MO; 2National Jewish Health Sleep & Behavioral Health Sciences Section, Denver, CO; 3Emory Sleep Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; 4Northshore University Health System, Bannockburn, IL; 5Cape Fear Valley Sleep Center, Fayetteville, NC; 6College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL; 7Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Study Objectives:

To survey Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and Physician Assistant (PA) utilization, roles and educational background within the field of sleep medicine.


Electronic surveys distributed to American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) member centers and APRNs and PAs working within sleep centers and clinics.


Approximately 40% of responding AASM sleep centers reported utilizing APRNs or PAs in predominantly clinical roles. Of the APRNs and PAs surveyed, 95% reported responsibilities in sleep disordered breathing and more than 50% in insomnia and movement disorders. Most APRNs and PAs were prepared at the graduate level (89%), with sleep-specific education primarily through “on the job” training (86%). All APRNs surveyed were Nurse Practitioners (NPs), with approximately double the number of NPs compared to PAs.


APRNs and PAs were reported in sleep centers at proportions similar to national estimates of NPs and PAs in physicians' offices. They report predominantly clinical roles, involving common sleep disorders. Given current predictions that the outpatient healthcare structure will change and the number of APRNs and PAs will increase, understanding the role and utilization of these professionals is necessary to plan for the future care of patients with sleep disorders. Surveyed APRNs and PAs reported a significant deficiency in formal and standardized sleep-specific education. Efforts to provide formal and standardized educational opportunities for APRNs and PAs that focus on their clinical roles within sleep centers could help fill a current educational gap.


Colvin L, Cartwright Ann, Collop N, Freedman N, McLeod D, Weaver TE, Rogers AE. Advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants in sleep centers and clinics: a survey of current roles and educational background. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(5):581-587.

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