European guidelines for the certification of professionals in sleep medicine: report of the task force of the European Sleep Research Society
In recent years, sleep medicine has evolved into a full-grown discipline, featuring a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment of patients with sleep disorders. Sleep medicine cuts across the boundaries of different conventional disciplines and is therefore open to medical and non-medical professionals with different specialty backgrounds. The aim of the current paper is to introduce a qualification for those professionals whose main occupation is to practice sleep medicine in the setting of a sleep medicine centre. The drafting of guidelines dealing with requirements for such qualification was entrusted to a task force by the European Sleep Research Society. The guidelines are the result of a progressive consensus procedure in which standards were defined for education, training, and evaluation. The final step along this pathway is a theoretical and practical examination, providing proof of proficiency in the field of sleep medicine. This paper describes the object of specific competences, the scope of sleep medicine, and the qualification procedures that pertain to three professional categories: medical specialists, non-medical professionals with a university master degree (such as psychologists and biologists), and nurses and technologists. Indices of preceding practical experience and theoretical knowledge are presented in Appendices 1 and 2. These guidelines are a European standard. They may be adapted in the future according to new scientific insights. National certification programs that comply with these guidelines may be subject to homologation by the ESRS.