This fall, three employees of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders (ACSD) will leave the practice to attend the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, studying to become Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).
For Dr. Anuj Chandra, founder and medical director of ACSD, this is not a story about losing employees and needing to hire replacements. He sees these transitions as signs of success in his longstanding efforts to provide educational and training opportunities for rising health care professionals.
“Providing a safe learning environment for rising physicians is a privilege,” Chandra says. “These future doctors have skills in ethical, patient-centered care before day one of medical school. Having experienced the day-to-day operations of a medical practice, they are making an informed decision to pursue a career in medicine.”
Over the last several years, several ACSD employees have gained admission to medical school and other graduate programs. Even dealing with the logistics of the expansion of its growing medical practice to a new office on Lee Highway, the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders has remained committed to providing educational and training opportunities for rising health care professionals.
“Our medical education program requires a lot of effort on the part of staff and providers to find and train new employees on a regular basis, because these graduate school hopefuls successfully move on to pursue their educational goals, but it is completely worth the effort,” Chandra says. “The program is beneficial not just to the trainees, but also to the practice, to patients and to the community.”
Chandra has also developed an employment track for aspiring polysomnography technicians to complete a college educational program to become eligible for Tennessee licensure. In addition, his clinic serves as a site for research projects and clinical rotations for local institutions.
“Eventually, they'll all come home. It's a good thing in terms of being able to have people who are from the community come back and serve the people right here,” Chandra says.
And one of Chandra’s graduates has come home.
Shelley Brand worked with Chandra in 2008 during her sophomore year of college, training as a scribe and eventually becoming a registered polysomnography tech. Brand worked as a tech on the weekends while earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC).
Brand was accepted into Temple University in Philadelphia and earned her doctorate in 2015. She then went on to complete a three-year surgical residency at Kingwood Medical Center in Houston, Texas specializing in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. She then decided to join Village Podiatry in Chattanooga.
“The main reason I returned to Chattanooga was to be close to my family, but I was also very impressed with the growth that this city has undergone while I was away for seven years,” Brand says. “I cannot thank Dr. Chandra enough for the opportunity that he gave me. He is an amazing physician and deserves all the recognition possible for his support of medical education.”
Mishelle Encalada trained at ACSD as a sleep technician. She has aspired to become a physician since she was in middle school in Ecuador. When she began her undergraduate education at Lee University in the international program, she was still learning English. After becoming fluent in English, she transferred to complete her degree in biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, graduating magna cum laude. Her time at ACSD strengthened her goal to become a physician.
“At ACSD, I’ve had the opportunity to care for a diverse patient population, from 2-year-olds to 92-year-olds,” Encalada says. “This has been such a rewarding opportunity, and I was lucky to be part of a team committed to improving the lives of patients.”
ACSD will also bid a fond farewell to Morgan Murphy, who graduated from UTC with a degree in Biochemistry. Murphy first trained at ACSD as a sleep tech, then cross-trained in durable medical equipment and triage.
“My experience working for ACSD has been amazing. The patient interaction and the skills I have learned will be valuable assets in medical school and my practice beyond school,” Murphy says. “I believe this experience has provided me with a boost for my upcoming medical education and training.”
Colton Morrow, a Cleveland, Tennessee native, will also matriculate into the LMU class with his ACSD colleagues. Before his time as a sleep technician at ACSD, Morrow played college football for Faulkner University in Alabama. He made the Dean’s List every semester and graduated cum laude with his Bachelor’s in biology. He went on to earn his Master’s degree in biomedical science from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“My biggest takeaway is learning how to effectively and efficiently communicate with patients,” Morrow says. “The providers and staff at ACSD truly care about everyone who walks through the door, and I hope to carry those same values into my own practice in the future.”
Anuj Chandra, M.D., D.ABSM, founded the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine in 2005, an independent sleep medicine clinic equipped with the latest sleep testing equipment and with locations in Chattanooga, Cleveland and Ringgold/East Ridge. In 2010, Dr. Chandra became “double boarded” after receiving his second board certification in sleep medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chandra has served as part of the international teaching faculty of the National Sleep Medicine Course, a physician education initiative to bring cutting-edge sleep medicine training to India. For more information about The Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders or to schedule an appointment, call 423.648.8008 or visit www.sleepforhealth.org.