Aurielle Martin, DMSc, MSPAS, PA-C, is a physician assistant with a doctoral degree in medical science. She has been practicing evidence-based medicine for 6 years and wanted to find a way to support her pediatric patients and families with their sleep struggles in an evidence-based way. Aurielle found CPSM about a year and a half ago and quickly felt empowered by the course to start her own business as a sleep consultant. She believes independent sleep is a beautiful and powerful gift. It is her mission to equip parents with the tools to empower their children to sleep independently with trust-building and healthy boundaries. Sleep Consulting as a Medical Professional
Along the way on this journey, Aurielle has been blessed with the opportunity to complete her own doctoral project on the evidence behind sleep training techniques as well as dive into and critique the peer reviewed literature we now discuss in the “Science of Sleep” section of the CPSM course! Sleep Consulting as a Medical Professional
On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.
Aurielle Martin is a physician assistant with a doctoral degree in medical science. She has been practicing evidence-based medicine for 6 years and wanted to find a way to support her pediatric patients and families with their sleep struggles in an evidence-based way.
Aurielle found CPSM about a year and a half ago and quickly felt empowered by the course to start her own business as a sleep consultant. She believes independent sleep is a beautiful and powerful gift. It is her mission to equip parents with the tools to empower their children to sleep independently with trust-building and healthy boundaries.
Along the way on this journey, Aurielle has been blessed with the opportunity to complete her own doctoral project on the evidence behind sleep training techniques as well as dive into and critique the peer-reviewed literature we now discuss in the “Science of Sleep” section of the CPSM course.
Jayne Havens: Aurielle, thank you so much for being willing to do this with me today. Welcome to the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. I’m excited to be chatting with you.
Aurielle Martin: Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Jayne Havens: I wanted to bring you on to the podcast because we actually have a lot of medical professionals — nurses, PAs, and even pediatricians — who are curious about getting certified. But many of them wonder what it will look like for them to grow their businesses alongside their day jobs. And not all of them even want to grow their own businesses, so maybe we’ll get into that too.
I’d love for you to share, if you’re willing, why you wanted to get certified as a sleep consultant. And what did it look like for you to go through the training process while also maintaining your busy life as a PA?
Aurielle Martin: Yeah, I’ve been a PA for about six years now, a little more than that. Most of that time has been in family practice, family medicine. I’ve seen a ton of babies, toddlers, children. I’ve had so many parents reporting a lack of sleep mostly just during well-child visits. But I also had my own baby who, at about six months old, I felt like she was a terrible sleeper. I honestly felt guilty. I thought I see babies all day long. I understand their development. I understand their health, and I treat them all day. But why can’t I get my own baby to sleep?
The truth is: they don’t teach this in medical school or PA school. They just teach you that crying is safe. But I didn’t want to just let her cry it out. I know that it’s perfectly safe to do that, and it’s not harmful in any way. But I’m in this generation of gentle parents, and it became my mission to get my own baby to sleep. I had a really great friend. She’s amazing. She worked with a sleep consultant. I had no idea that they even existed, but she raved about it. She did some research on her own. She was looking into being a sleep consultant at the time too. She gave me a lot of really great recommendations.
Once my baby was sleeping, I looked into this too. It felt like magic almost. I found your course. We were talking, and I asked you a lot of questions. It was really just this amazing thing that I found could really benefit my own family, and my friends, and my patients. I told you before that I didn’t really plan on making it a business at the time. I just wanted to have this knowledge base for my patients and my family. But your course really helped me feel like this business thing isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I can do this. I never saw myself as a business person before. So it just became a natural progression into making my own business too.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love that. I think some people come to me — nurses, PAs, pediatricians — they come to me just wanting additional knowledge so that they can support their patients and the families that they serve at a higher level. They don’t feel like they have many tools beyond just let them cry it out. That’s what a lot of doctors tell families. They want more tools because parents are coming to them saying, “I don’t want to cry it out,” or, “What are the other options? Or what about this or what about that?” I think that’s where a lot of medical professionals are getting really stuck, because they don’t necessarily have the answers to those questions.
Then also, I think, for those who do have the answers to those questions, a lot of medical practices aren’t really set up to then give a family 45 minutes of their time, to really walk them through it properly and answer all of their questions. So I think a lot of medical professionals are coming to me really just to learn more, and then some of them decide to turn it into a business the way that you did. Then others just want to be better at their existing jobs and support families at a higher level. I sort of think both are awesome.
I’m curious what it looked like for you to go through the course. I can’t even remember. I almost went back to look. But then, time got away from me this morning. Do you remember how long it took for you to complete the course? How did you juggle studying with your job and then also being a new mom?
Aurielle Martin: I honestly can’t remember exactly how long it took me either. I want to say it was like 7 to 10 days, something like that. I was just really into it and really excited about it. I was working PRN, which means “as needed,” at my medical job at the time. So it was a really great time for me to look into or to spend the time to do more research and take the course. Most of my time was spent during nap time. We’re after bedtime. So it felt like a really great time for me to do it. I had a lot of time to study.
Jayne Havens: I always tell people I think that we all have the time. It’s something that comes up often in my calls with prospective students as they say, “I don’t have time. I have a job. I have a kid. This and that.” I think that we all have time in our day. We all sit on our phones and scroll Facebook or Instagram. We all binge Netflix shows at night. Maybe not every night, but we all have time in our day. I really do think it boils down to, like, is this something that you’re really interested in doing, and are you going to prioritize it?
Because for someone like you to finish it in 7 or 10 days, you made it happen because you were interested. You wanted to do it, and you prioritized it. I think that that’s what it comes down to for all of us.
Aurielle Martin: Absolutely. I think we make time for the things we want to do.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I totally agree. Now that you’re certified and you’ve been up and running for, I think, about a year and a half, can you share a little bit about what it looks like for you to live the sleep consultant life but also continue to work in your job as a PA?
Aurielle Martin: Yes, what I have right now with both being a PA and sleep consulting is really beautiful for me, because it lets me work full time in my medical job when it works for me. I have a really fortunate position right now where I can work PRN when I want to, or I can work full time hours when I want to. I love that because I can meet the community’s needs when the needs are high. And I can spend more time at home with my family or doing sleep consulting when I feel like that’s better for me.
Right now, I’m working PRN as needed. But in the fall, for instance, I was working full time. I was in the hospital working. I was still working on my doctoral project too. So things were really intense for me in the fall and the winter, so I saw a lot of fewer clients. But right now, I’m working PRN. I’ve finished my doctorate, so I’m really seeing a lot of clients right now for sleep consulting. That’s been really fun for me too. I love that both of these jobs are versatile for me and that I can love two things at once.
It’s been really helpful because I think that, for me, I can prevent being burned out from one thing. Because I can spend more time doing one of the jobs I love when the other one becomes less time-consuming for me, that I can change both of them. I love that I have the control over that. I know a lot of medical providers don’t. They have really busy schedules. So I do feel really fortunate that I can find a balance between both.
Jayne Havens: How are you finding your sleep consulting clients? Where are they coming from?
Aurielle Martin: The vast majority of my clients are coming from other medical providers. I think that we have a really great rapport already because we can relate to — well, I didn’t learn this in PA school — that struggle or that internal battle of, “Why can’t I get my child to sleep when I know everything about their anatomy and their development? It doesn’t make sense.” So I do find that a lot of my clients, I can really relate too, that way.
But the vast majority of those are coming from a Facebook group of PAs and professionals who are like me. I think a lot of sleep consultants can really benefit from seeing clients who relate to them in different groups. I love that. But I’ve had a handful also find me locally or from Google too.
Jayne Havens: How do your colleagues view you becoming a sleep consultant? Is that perceived as being a little weird to have this side hustle that’s not medical? Is it seen as something that’s a little weird? Are they just grateful to know you to have a resource? What does that look like? Then I’m also wondering, do you find that your clients that you’re serving, do they love that you are a medical professional?
Aurielle Martin: Yes, my clients do love that I’m a medical professional. One, because a lot of my clients are medical professionals too. So we can have those talks developmentally, if this makes sense or that doesn’t make sense. But the other clients who aren’t in medicine, I think they love it too. I think they just feel a little bit comforted that I’ve spent that extra time having that study in medicine and that I’m not going to give them recommendations that, really, I wouldn’t give a patient. I’ve done the research to get the evidence behind it.
Evidence-based practice is really important to me in both of these jobs. I do find that clients tend to feel comforted by that. In my work, my colleagues have not told me they think it’s weird at all. I think most of them just asked me a lot of questions. They say, “What can I do about my grandchild, or my child, or my niece, or nephew who’s having this problem and that problem?” Or, ” Can I give your contact information or business info to this person I know who’s having trouble with sleep?” Or, “Do you have any recommendations I could quickly give to this patient of mine?” I find that it’s really been rewarding and fun in my medical job.
Jayne Havens: I think one thing that a lot of — I see CPSM graduates, those who are not medical professionals, when they’re just getting started in the process of growing their businesses and they’re trying to figure out what sort of networking to do, what connections to make, a lot of them, I think, are intimidated by the idea of approaching medical professionals to network with, whether it be pediatricians, PAs. I’m always telling them that I actually think that medical professionals largely really appreciate sleep consultants because we’re filling a void. We’re filling a need they don’t have the capacity, they don’t have the knowledge or the time to coach and support parents through the sleep training process.
Connecting with those medical professionals really, I think, can provide you with a steady stream of referrals. But a lot of women are scared to do that. Would you say that it has been your experience, that largely medical professionals are supportive of sleep consultants and the field in general?
Aurielle Martin: I think so. I think, honestly, a lot of medical providers don’t know that sleep consultants exist, because I didn’t. Anytime a resource would come up in our community or someone would give us a visit and give us some business cards and tell us a little bit about what they do — whether it’s something that’s a field we know about, a medical specialty, an EMT, a cardiologist — or someone coming from the community saying, “I have this support group,” or, “I have this class,” or a lactation consultant, I think that getting that resource is just one more thing we have for our patients.
Even if you don’t know anything about it, it puts that bug in your ear saying, maybe I should learn about this and know what’s out there for my patients. Because we all know about those books, all the different sleep training books or resources. But we don’t know our community resources. We don’t know what businesses are out there and what professionals are out there. So I think we do really appreciate when someone just drops by or sends us a quick email saying, “This is what I do. I exist.”
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think so too. I know that you practice evidence-based medicine. I know this is something that’s incredibly important to you in your work as a sleep consultant as well. Can you share a bit about the research that you’ve done independently, and maybe tell everybody listening a bit about your work that has since made it into the CPSM course?
Aurielle Martin: Yes, you know that I’ve been working on my doctorate for the past year. So I was really getting into this research. I love that you were interested in it too and really wanted to make your course as evidence-based as possible. So that’s been a really fun project that we’ve worked on.
A lot of the research I found in my own project was looking at alternatives to cry it out — mostly graduated extinction, which in the scientific literature is very similar to your Check and Console method. I was looking at only research from the past five years, because that was the basis of my research. The truth is: there are tons of studies out there. A lot of them are older than the past five years. And I would love to change that. I really would love to continue doing research and writing clinical reviews and things like that. But for now, I really also enjoy getting into everything that I could possibly find.
Part of that project for CPSM was us going through — I don’t even know — a dozen maybe articles. We looked at way more of them. But we included a lot of articles in that “Science of Sleep” section, and pretty much just broke them down. We said, here’s what they found. Here’s how they did it. Here are their strengths. Also, what are the weaknesses of this study? What makes it a good study or a bad study? Was the design of it really helpful for the clients we actually see? I think that’s been a really fun project for us, and I would love to continue spreading the news to other health care providers too. Because I think, right now, like I said, we just learned that crying is safe.
Evidence shows us crying is safe. So if we’re going to go and tell our patients that, are they going to receive that? Well, I didn’t. That is something I’m looking forward to in the future, too. I really want to spread this to other health care providers, not just sleep consultants.
Jayne Havens: I’m really grateful that you were willing to share all of your knowledge with our CPSM community. I’m just so grateful to have super smart people inside of my community like you. For those who are listening, Aurielle has come back to me repeatedly when there’s new information available, or if she comes across something that she feels is relevant for our CPSM community. She’s like, “Hey, Jayne. I want to update this. I want to add new information.” I’m just so grateful for that. Because I always say that with each person that enrolls in CPSM.
Our course, my course gets better because you never know who’s going to come into our community and teach us something that we didn’t know previously. So I feel really grateful that you have all of this knowledge and expertise, and that you’re willing to share it with our community, and share it in a way that is easy to understand for those of us who are not medical professionals. I think that’s really important. A lot of us don’t have the education or the knowledge for how to read these studies and interpret them and understand why they’re strong, or why they’re not strong, or what to trust and what to not trust. You’ve really broken that down for us in a way that I think is really easy to understand. So I’m so grateful for you.
Aurielle Martin: Thank you. I’m really grateful that you really want your course to have evidence in it. I think that’s something that’s really unique about CPSM now that I have never seen another course that really has peer-reviewed literature in it. They all reference the different books that are out there, about how many really looked at the studies deeply. So I’m glad that I could be part of that.
Jayne Havens: Well, I am just wishing you all the success in the world, both in your medical lane and your sleep consulting lane. What are your goals? Do you have goals or thoughts about what the next two to five years will look like for you professionally?
Aurielle Martin: Yes, I don’t think that I will 100% fully switch from medicine to sleep consulting. I 100% believe that I could. I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve really enjoyed sleep consulting, but I still also love medicine. One of the huge reasons that I looked into sleep consulting was to help patients too. So I really want to continue serving them.
But I think one of the things that I want to do in the very near future, I sort of mentioned earlier, is I really want to look into how I can reach more healthcare providers and educate them on the evidence of sleep training and the recommendations that they can make for their patients, and really things that they could say or do for patients that they can do during that visit, rather than—
Like you said, we don’t have 45 minutes to talk about just sleep during a well-child visit or even during a problem visit. It’s somewhere between 15 minutes and 30 minutes depending on what the visit is scheduled for. So I really want to find ways that I can help healthcare providers reach out to patients, and then give them that referral source to say maybe this patient really needs a sleep consultant. That’s something I’m looking forward to in the next year, maybe two years. That’s really exciting for me. But I also really love talking about evidence in general, so I’d love to continue talking about it with you and other sleep consultants.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love all of that. Where can people find you if they want to just connect with you or learn more from you? Where is the best way for them to reach out?
Jayne Havens: Perfect. We’ll have all of that in the show notes. Aurielle, thank you so much for having this conversation with me today. I can’t wait to see all that you do in the coming years.
Aurielle Martin: Thank you so much, Jayne.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode. Sleep Consulting as a Medical Professional