Featured Member - Michael Schmitz, PSYD,LP,CBSM

Dr. Schmitz is the Director of Behavioral Sleep Health Program at Fairview Health Services, an integrated health system serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and surrounding region.  He is the immediate past president of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine and currently serves on its executive committee and board of directors.  In 2000, Dr. Schmitz founded the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program as part of its Neuroscience Institute.  With the support of Abbott Northwestern Hospital Neuroscience Institute and Allina Health, Dr. Schmitz led development and implementation of an integrated BSM program.  By 2009 this program included a BSM training program leading to certification for embedded practicing primary care psychologists. 

Dr. Schmitz has a special interest in integration of insomnia and BSM services within health care systems and population-based management of insomnia.  He also has a special interest in how psychosocial factors impact chronic disease. In 2016, Dr. Schmitz was invited to lead the development of a population-based insomnia management program at Fairview Health System.  

How did you decide to specialize in behavioral sleep medicine?

My first post-doctoral position was in health psychology in 1998 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis where I was hired to develop clinical services in the Rehabilitation, Diabetes, Neuroscience, and Sleep programs.  I had little to no training in sleep but at the time CBT-I for insomnia was increasingly being recognized by local sleep physicians as an effective treatment for insomnia. I recall that before I had a chance to take a course or workshop, faxed referrals began coming through from several sleep physicians. I am forever grateful to Peter Hauri (who was an hour’s drive away at the Mayo) for his guidance and generosity in orienting me the best resources for learning, skills, and practice development.  I was also tremendously grateful when Don Townsend came to St. Paul.  As a psychologist boarded in sleep medicine, he was instrumental in encouraging and supporting my efforts to deepen and broaden my knowledge and skills.

Where would you like to see the field of BSM in 10 years?

I am very hopeful that BSM training will expand to become multidiscipline, that we see specialty track training in many more of our PhD and PsyD programs along with MSW, NP, PA and MD programs.  I also hope that the field thinks outside of the box to develop more robust training opportunities and programs for those already in practice who want to re-specialize in BSM or add it as a specialty clinical focus.

What is your advice to early career individuals or those respecializing in BSM?

My advice is to seek out mentorship early, across disciplines, and throughout your career.  Our field and sleep medicine in general benefits from expertise across disciplines and brings a great deal of new science, innovative technology, and I do think generally a spirit of generosity and willingness to collaborate.  Take advantage of this, be willing to make mistakes, be open to critique and feedback, and most of all, pass along the mentorship and generosity you receive to your colleague and your own students.

Do you have any special talents or hobbies?

I actually enjoy my assigned list of home improvement projects (so long as they don’t involve plumbing or electrical!) and while I mostly water plants and pull weeds, I do love our gardens.