I was born and raised in northern Illinois. As a child I was always interested in teaching, more specifically in early education. I received an associate degree in applied science for early childhood education in 2007. After working with children for a couple years, I realized I wanted to try something else. It was around that time that I was reviewing college catalogs and found a polysomnography program. Life happened and I didn’t go back to college, but I was still interested in that career. Sleep medicine sounded different, interesting, rewarding and challenging.
In 2010 I made the move to northern California taking only what would fit in my 1999 Ford Taurus. I decided to search for local sleep clinics in my new area. I was requesting a job shadow. I didn’t know much about the job and wanted to see it with my own eyes. I got a response from California Sleep Solutions. They asked for my resume and gave me an interview. I was unaware of the on-the-job training pathway so I was surprised I could potentially have a job right away. I was hired and came in during the day to practice the sleep study setup. I performed about 5 or 6 setups and started training at night with another technician.
I will never forget my first CPAP trial. I told my patient to hold the mask over her face and then I would turn on the pressure. They complied and I watched her eyes widen as the pressure started. I started to feel the same anxiety I could see in her. I was unprepared and uneducated. My trainer did give me a run down of mask types and different things to try if I incur that situation again, but that patient was my motivation for expanding our training program in the years to come.
My first year as a sleep technician was spent working nights, commuting 1-1.5 hours one way, and studying during my shift and on my days off. I reviewed the BPRT study guides, blueprints, textbooks, everything on the AASM website, the AASM scoring manual. I wanted to be prepared and pass my RPSGT the first time. I had great co-workers to solidify my studies with real patient experiences.
In November 2011 I took my RPSGT exam and received a high passing score. I was ecstatic. I worked another year at night and gradually transitioned to scoring sleep studies during the day. My passion for education led me to formalize our education program and in 2017 it was accredited as an A-STEP introductory course called the Northern California School of Sleep Medicine.
During my final years in California, I was managing the clinical department and learning the ins and outs of running an A-STEP Introductory Course. Dozens of students completed our course and Northern California is filled with NCSSM graduates who are not successful RPSGTs working in various independent and hospital organizations.
Growing up, I took many trips to Tennessee and a piece of my heart has resided there for a couple decades. When I lost my mom in July 2021, my husband and I decided to make the trek with our 2 kids and move across the country. Now I am closer to my father, siblings, nieces, nephew and living in the area of my dreams. I started the position as the A-STEP director for Focus Sleep School, doing what I love full time. I am ready to expand our program and grow Focus Sleep School to magnificent heights.