Interview with the President of the Icelandic Sleep Research Society (ISRS), Dr. Erna Sif Arnardóttir

Dear Dr. Arnardóttir, what is the status of the accreditation procedures for sleep medicine experts? Can you explain how the procedure works?

In Iceland, we follow the accreditation procedures of the ESRS. We are a small country of 340.000 people so we do not think it is feasible to establish our own procedures and are very happy for the work of the ESRS in accreditation procedures.

Is such an accreditation procedure planned only for physicians or also for other professional figures like psychologists, technicians etc.?

We believe it is important for all professional involved in sleep to be accredited. Already, 1 sleep scientist and 2 sleep technologists from Iceland have successfully passed the ESRS examination and 2 MDs are accredited by NOSMAC, the Nordic Sleep Medicine Accreditation Committee which works according to the ESRS Accreditation Guidelines. More sleep professionals in Iceland are planning to take the ESRS exams.

Do you also have an accreditation procedure for sleep centers?

No, we only have one general sleep center in Iceland, that does all polysomnography recordings, pediatric studies and handles all sleep apnea treatment in the country (over 5700 patients on treatment in Iceland). We do have other limited sleep centers that only deal with sleep apnea diagnostics in adults. Therefore, accreditation within Iceland for general sleep centers is not feasible as the single center would be accrediting itself. We would celebrate assistance with accreditation by the ESRS.

Do you have accreditation procedures for centers with different characteristics (multidisciplinary, respiratory specific, pediatrics etc)?

No, see answer above. The one general sleep center in Iceland is, however, working with the limited sleep centers that only deal with sleep apnea diagnostics for quality reassurances and assists them with difficult cases if needed. Official guidelines for the scoring of sleep apnea diagnostic studies and minimum quality of such studies with a requirement for manual scoring of experienced personnel was published in 2015.

Is sleep medicine officially included in academic programs?

Yes, but only in a limited manner. All students of medicine get some lectures on sleep and visit the general sleep center at Landspitali – The National University Hospital of Iceland. Many other health related professionals receive some lectures and one practical session on sleep. We started with a more extensive elective course on sleep and sleep related disorders at the University of Iceland last spring which is open to all students within the School of Health Sciences. Also, the University of Reykjavik offers an elective course on sleep for their students. We would, however, like to offer more sleep education within academic programs off all levels, from sleep hygiene information in high schools to official sleep education in university degrees.

Do you organize accredited sleep medicine courses?

No. However, the Icelandic Sleep Research Society with its 99 official members, organizes monthly educational meetings for all its members – both with Icelandic and international speakers which are well sought.

Are you working toward achieving the recognition of sleep medicine as a medical sub-specialty?

Yes, but only in collaboration with the ESRS and ANSS. It is difficult for us to achieve this on our own if other European countries are not achieving the same recognition.

Is basic research in the sleep field represented in the Icelandic Sleep Research Society activities?

Yes, we welcome all clinicians and researchers into our society and actively seek out new members which are involved in sleep-related research of any kind as we believe that we are stronger working together and sharing information amongst ourselves.
We are proud to be per capita the largest sleep society and with the most publications in Europe according to the latest poll by the Assembly of National Sleep Society and believe part of our success is the closely knit sleep community in Iceland.

Thank you, Dr. Arnardóttir, for participating in this interview.

Lino Nobili