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How to become an ACSDD Fellow or Diplomate

(and the Difference Between the Two)

While rewarding, starting a successful dental sleep program isn’t easy. It takes dedication from both you and your team members, and, of course, proper training.

The Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorder Disciplines (ACSDD) provides that much-needed comprehensive education . Through the organization’s online, on-demand program, dentists can study the materials at their own pace and take the exam when they’re ready. The course includes 12 modules that cover the medical and dental science of sleep disorder breathing and its comorbidities, qualifying those who take it for 13 CEs.

Most dentists receive their certificate in Dental Sleep Medicine in about 4 to 6 months, walking away with the knowledge they need to confidently collaborate with physicians and to start helping the many patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But the opportunity for growth doesn’t stop there. Eligible clinicians are invited to submit cases for board review to earn Fellow or Diplomate status.

What’s the difference between the two and which path makes the most sense for you? Read on to find out.

Becoming an ACSDD Fellow

Dentists who have earned their Dental Sleep Medicine certificate from ACSDD and who have begun treating patients while continuing their sleep medicine education are eligible for Fellow status. How do you earn the designation? You must submit at least 10 patient cases for board review as well as 25 CEs in dental sleep medicine, with seven of them in TMD/TMJ. Of the 10 cases, 3 must be submitted as detailed narratives.

Becoming an ACSDD Fellow shows your team members, patients and referring physicians that you’re dedicated to your sleep program and treating patients who suffer daily from conditions like OSA—helping you grow your program and achieve success. Diplomate requires either 45 CE credits OR Fellow + 20 CE credits, and all CE credits must be earned within 5 years of submission, so Fellow status provides a way to lock in your qualifying CE credits towards Diplomate.

Becoming a Diplomate

Diplomate status is for more advanced sleep dentists. If you have your ACSDD certificate, 45 CEs and 20 qualifying cases you can skip the Fellow program and apply directly to become a Diplomate. What does it take to earn the designation? You must submit 20 cases for board review and present five of them as in-depth narratives.

If you’ve already earned Fellow status from ACSDD and want to advance further, the requirements are a little different. The 20 CE credits you earned for Fellow count towards the total of 45, and you’ll need to submit 10 additional cases to the board, for a total 20. 5 will be as detailed narratives, the 3 from Fellow can be used towards the total.

Diplomate status proves to both referring physicians and patients that your practice provides medically sound treatment in accordance with best standards of care for dental sleep medicine. More than a certificate or a course, your work has been proved in the field and given the stamp of approval by an independent board of dentists and physicians with decades of experience in sleep. Board certification is the number 1 credential that physicians look for when selecting a dentist to refer their patient.

Developing a successful sleep program

Starting a Dental Sleep Medicine Program can do a lot of good in your community. Many of your patients are likely suffering from OSA and don’t even know it, dealing with the snoring, fatigue, headaches, irritability and various other related symptoms.. Many sleep medicine programs never get off the ground, and that’s often because the dentist didn’t have sufficient education or properly document their experience.

To be successful, you must build relationships with referring physicians. Physicians consider many factors when choosing a dentist to refer their patients to, several key factors include education, experience and board certification. They want to be sure you will provide medically sound, appropriate care for their patient.

When you become a Fellow or a Diplomate, you prove to physicians and patients that you take sleep medicine seriously, have committed to educating yourself, and most critically, that you deliver treatment that meets the highest standards of care. Board certification will help motivate your team and allow you to focus on your sleep program, taking on more cases, and help more people. Contact the ACSDD to start the process today, and in just a few months you’ll be able to make even more of a difference to your patients—changing and saving, lives.

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