Work is the time between vacations

I really like my job.  Nerdy, but true.  It was a great week at work because in addition to two (!) OR days, a big project is finally getting off the ground and I’m really excited.  We have a home sleep study project that a contract was finally approved for and in two days, I’ve already booked 9 patients.  It feels awesome to blast a waiting list to smithereens and it’s nice to have success from the very beginning.

What’s interesting is that I don’t love sleep medicine.  I do, however, LOVE sleep so sometimes my wish for other people to enjoy good sleep helps me focus on the positive aspects of sleep medicine.  The reason why I don’t like the specialty is that the surgical interventions are limited with low cure rates and I am a person who likes to operate and achieve successful outcomes.

In addition, there is a large financial incentive for military members to have OSA.  Twisted but true.  If a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea, the VA rates their disability at 50%.  I won’t go into the details too much but there are many people who see this as a reward for being fat, since obesity is associated with >75% of OSA cases.  And, despite how it looks in some workspaces, military members are supposed to comply with weight standards.
So, because some people see this money spent as a way to satisfy secondary gain from unprofessional (read: fat) military members, there is resistance to the program.  In response, I say that OSA is a disease with significant morbidity if left untreated.  In terms of “rewarding” being overweight, a large portion of all our health care dollars is spent treating chronic medical conditions linked with excess body weight (coronary artery disease, Type 2 Diabetes).  So, we need to treat the patient population as they are while encouraging weight loss, healthy eating, tobacco cessation, etc and we still need to diagnose and treat OSA.  The home studies are 1/4 the cost of sleep lab studies and equally accurate in diagnosing OSA.  I think the program fills a need in a cost-effective way and more importantly, that’s what my boss thinks.  Since my boss told me to take on this project and see it through, I did it.  The end.
Moving on!  My projects are going well and most importantly, they’re at a place where I can leave them on auto-pilot while I tour around Japan with my parents next week!  I’m so excited and look forward to all the fun we will have!  After that trip, there will only be 8 more days until SMS arrives in Japan for good.  Hooray!

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