A pulmonologist who is becoming certified in sleep and would like to transition to a sleep career asks:
Sleep only jobs seem rare, so realistically incorporating sleep into a primary pulmonary practice is my goal. Is that kind of paradigm possible? On a practical level, how would you see someone trying to do this? Would I work part-time in a sleep lab; would I try to be a director and practice pulmonary (I think that owning my own lab would be a stretch)?
Here are some past posts that may be helpful.
You could start your own lab if you had access to several hundred thousand dollars; there are companies you can partner with that can help you start the lab. However, this is pretty risky.
One way to transition to sleep is to be in a practice (either solo or group) of your primary specialty. Then advertise your expertise in sleep. Make an agreement with an existing sleep lab that you can read the studies (and bill the interp fee) for the patients you send there for sleep studies- this is easy to do, most labs would be willing to make this arrangement with a BE/BC sleep doc. Gradually increase your sleep work and decrease your primary specialty. Call rural hospitals in your state and offer to go out there and see sleep patients. I made this arrangement with a small hospital about 45 minutes from Jackson MS. At first I sent the patients back to my main sleep lab in Jackson. Now the hospital has a 2 bed sleep lab that I am medical director of.
As you become known as a sleep expert in your state (blogging or posting on sleep discussion forums such as the AASM forums helps), opportunities will open up. You will probably be contacted by sleep labs that will offer you medical directorships and give you a lot of studies to read in exchange for going out there periodically and seeing patients (you might have to drive several hours to outlying sleep labs).