mendous growth in terms of applicants. The number of candidates applying for the certification examination as well as the number of diplomates (Figure 5-1) has increased dramatically each year; however, as will be discussed in detail in Chapter 6, the capacity is still not sufficient to diagnose and treat all individuals with sleep disorders.

Establishment of the ABMS in Sleep Medicine

Despite its growth in reputation and numbers of diplomates, it became evident by the late 1990s that the ABSM as a freestanding board would not be recognized as fully legitimate by organized medicine. Because sleep medicine requires only 1 year of postresidency fellowship training, the ABSM was ineligible to join the ABMS as an independent board.

In 2002, the ABSM met with several specialty societies and professional organizations to discuss the necessity for certification examination in sleep medicine and the best design for such an examination. A consensus plan was developed for the establishment of a new subspecialty examination in sleep medicine to be jointly offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Board of Pediatrics; the American Board of Otolaryngology joined later as a sponsoring board. Following further successful negotiations, a plan for this examination was submitted to the ABMS in early 2004. In March 2005, the ABMS announced approval of the certification examination in sleep medicine. A specific time frame for the new examination has not been set; it is expected, however, that the first examination cycle will begin in 2007.

There are three pathways that qualify physicians to sit for the new examination: (1) certification by one of the primary sponsoring boards and

FIGURE 5-1 Total number of diplomates of the ABSM (1979–2005).

SOURCE: Personal communication, J. Barrett, AASM, December 15, 2005.



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