Dream come true: More sleep doctors come to Manitoba through new U of M fellowship

New sleep doctors will now be trained in Winnipeg, thanks to a new fellowship through the University of Manitoba.

The university’s respirology department has been accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to train and certify one fellow per year in sleep medicine. The fellow will work at Misericordia Health Centre’s Sleep Disorder Centre.

This brings the number of sleep medicine physicians at Misericordia up to eight, according to Dr. Nancy Porhownik, co-section head of respirology at U of M.

“Academic sleep doctors across the country are in high demand, so this helps to make us competitive to recruit these physicians here, if they want to do patient care, teaching and research,” Porhownik says.

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The University of Manitoba says adding the fellow in the Sleep Disorder Centre will reduce wait times for sleep studies and follow-up care. The fellow will gain experience in working with insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and other sleep-related disorders.

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Dr. Sarah Jane Sass is the first fellow to be accepted into the program, and began her training about three months ago.

“Sleep medicine is such a rapidly developing field, and it’s extremely rewarding to get an opportunity to be in this field,” Sass says. “There’s so much to learn and to do.”

Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara says the announcement represents a first for the province.

“Manitoba is now home to one of only six universities in Canada that offers a fellowship that will support the education, assessment, diagnosis, and management of disorders related to sleep, breathing, and movement,” Asagwara says.

“This fellowship is key to our government’s goal of making it easier for Manitobans to access the health care they need, closer to home.”

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