Over the last twenty years, sleep medicine has emerged as a field with highly prevalent disorders that have significant influence on individual as well as public health. Despite the impact of sleep on overall health and well-being, primary care physicians often do not address sleep complaints. Some of the barriers identified by primary care providers include insufficient education exposure across all levels of training including undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education. Currently, the average student in a U.S. medical school only receives 2 hours of sleep medicine education over the course of 4 years. Postgraduate medical experiences can be limited to due lack of support and resources for facilitating medical education. Continuing medical education is sleep medicine is often in the form of conferences which require time away from the office or medical journal articles and webinars which typically lack relevant clinically based teaching pearls. The plan is to develop a sleep medicine curriculum that is fully web-based and transportable to healthcare professionals who do not have access to hands-on clinical experiences. This curriculum would consist of live and enduring "on demand" as well as self-directed clinical cases that are smartphone application based with a website option. Topics would include basic sleep biology, sleep deprivation, sleep-disordered breathing, overview of neurologic sleep disorders and insomnia. The program will be rolled out in three phases. Initially, the curriculum would be provided to fina year medical students in taking a one-week elective in Sleep Medicine (Phase 1). Subsequently, the curriculum would be provided to first year internal medicine residents and family medicine residents at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania(Phase 2).. Lastly, the curriculum would be provided to community-based internal medicine and family medicine practitioners (Phase 3). Assessments of learning include change in attitudes and knowledge of sleep health and sleep disorders using pre- and post-testing (in all learners) and changes in behaviors (in residents and community-based primary care clinicians) as measured by screening, testing and referral patterns. Additionally, assessment of competency in learners using direct observation of clinical simulated encounters using video-chat technology will be developed and evaluated. The development of this innovative, educational, and completely web-based tool will transfer information about sleep health and sleep disorders to learners across the continuum of medical education (i.e. undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, and community-based practicing physicians).

Public Health Relevance

Sleep disorders are common and have major public health significance. Recognition of sleep disorders is increasing given the impact these disorders have on health. However, education about these disorders is still scant in medical school and many physicians in practice have received little to no training in sleep and its disorders. Thus, there s a need to provide educational content in sleep medicine to all levels of medical professionals. This need exceeds resources for traditional models of medical education. This program is proposing a new approach utilizing web-based technology to deliver medical education in sleep medicine which will allow a rapidly scalable strategy to improve knowledge transfer to medical students, primary care residents and community health care providers, who are already in practice.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHL1)
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Twery, Michael
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University of Pennsylvania
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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