This fall, three employees of the Chattanooga-headquartered Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders (ACSD) will be leaving the practice to attend the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, studying to become doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO).
For Anuj Chandra, MD, DABSM, 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 healthcare professionals.
“Providing a safe learning environment for rising physicians is a privilege,” says Chandra in a release. “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 healthcare 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,” says Chandra. “The program is beneficial not just to the trainees, but also to the practice, to patients, and to 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.
The “graduates” are:
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,” says Encalada. “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 UT-Chattanooga 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 very valuable assets in medical school and my practice beyond school,” says Murphy. “I believe this experience has provided me with a boost for my upcoming medical education and training.”
Colton Morrow, a Cleveland, Tenn, native, will also matriculate into the LMU class with his ACSD colleagues. Before his time as a sleep technician at ACSD, Colton 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,” says Morrow. “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, MD, DABSM, founded the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine in 2005, an independent sleep medicine clinic with locations in Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Ringgold/East Ridge.
Photo: Left to right: Anuj Chandra, MD, DABSM; Morgan Murphy, Colton Morrow, Mishelle Encalada