How to Prepare for the CCSH Exam: Providing the Foundation for Success

By Robyn Woidtke, MSN, RN, RPSGT, CCP, CCSH

The Certification in Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH) exam is a relatively new exam to credential those who may wish an additional sleep role outside of the RPSGT exam. Currently, separate of the technologist credentialing and board certification for MD and PhD., there are no other opportunities for demonstrating competence in the field of sleep medicine. According to Wikipedia, a “certification is a third-party attestation of an individual’s level of knowledge or proficiency in a certain industry or profession.” In this case, the certification is given by a professional organization, the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT).

Why should you consider taking this exam and earning certification in clinical sleep health? A recent article in Medscape Nurses states that certification provides the following with regards to nursing, these include: protecting the public, meeting the needs of employers, practitioners, and the public by identifying individuals with certain knowledge and skills, assuring consumers that professionals have met standards of practice, demonstrating an individual’s commitment to a profession and lifelong learning, providing an individual with a sense of pride and professional accomplishment. Given the fact that we work with patients, these should be no different within our profession.

The CCSH exam considers the exam takers ability relative to critical thinking skills. For instance, many of the questions are vignette based and may have several responses based on the scenario. Also, the questioning might “build” upon one another. This type of exam is different from the RPSGT exam.

  • To begin preparation for the exam, first, take a personal assessment. What is your comfort zone, in which areas do you have a good knowledge base and what do you need to explore and learn further? It’s always good to know, what you don’t know! Do you need to learn more about critical thinking skills? Here is a link to a low-cost program to increase those skills.

The BRPT provides on their website the blueprint for the exam and resources for studying. Consult the blueprint for the areas of study covered in the examination. They also offer a practice exam. All of these should help with your personal assessment.

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  • Plan your time accordingly to learn what you need to learn to be successful. Planning for about a six month study period is a thoughtful way to proceed. Schedule several hours of study time per week. Once you identify an area of weakness, say, for instance, pathophysiology of the major sleep disorders, you might choose restless legs for a two-hour session to review. Use the blueprint to guide you.

What books or review material should you use? A good place to start and are usually offered at no charge are clinical practice guidelines.

  • The AASM provides a link to these on their website. The guidelines cover the major sleep disorders. The AAST also provide technical guidelines which may give a different approach, again these are found at no cost.
  • Review the reference list provided by the BRPT and explore what is recommended. You might also go to Amazon and have a look at the table of contents for each text.

People often ask what is the best way to prepare, what are the best references to use etc. Because each individual has varying skills, background, and abilities, it is difficult to respond to those queries. The first step is critically assessing what you need to do and plan for success.

robyn woidtke

Robyn Woidtke, MSN, RN, RPSGT, CCP, CCSH, since 1985 has been in research, education and regulatory roles in sleep medicine and the medical device industry. Robyn received the 2017 AAST Leadership Award and currently sits on the board of the California Sleep Society. Currently, she is the Sr. Manager, Dental Sleep Initiatives at Oventus Medical, an oral sleep appliance company.

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