Featured Member - LISA MEDALIE, PSYD, CBSM

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE (WHAT GOT YOU STARTED, WHO DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH ALONG THE WAY)?

When I was 17 years old I read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and began talking about dreams non-stop. We had the opportunity to shadow any professional for 6 weeks at the end of our senior year in high school. My dad, a cardiologist, suggested I shadow his colleague, Dr. Thomas Hobbins, a pulmonary sleep physician, given my interest in dreams and sleep. I shadowed Dr. Hobbins and fell in love with the field. I have been enamored with sleep ever since! I was unsure whether I would pursue the medicine side or the behavioral side - I still have a strong interest in both. I studied and shadowed doctors on both sides throughout my training years. 

I was also intrigued by the technical side and became a registered sleep technician. During my post-college years with the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, I had a lengthy phone call with Dr. Michael Smith. It was that conversation that inspired me to choose the path of behavioral sleep medicine as opposed to pulmonary sleep medicine.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE FIELD IN 10 YEARS?

I would like to see our field succeed in significant reduction of prescription sleeping pills. Given the 2016 American College of Physicians recommendation to start with Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia (CBT-I) as first-line treatment for Chronic Insomnia, it would be fantastic to see practice catch up with this recommendation by that time. Increased education to prescribing physicians (and future prescribing physicians) regarding the recommendation, as well as increased access to CBT-I are necessary steps to reach this goal.

WHO GOES ON YOUR BSM MOUNT RUSHMORE?

My path was a bit different as my interest started globally in sleep, then diverted more specifically to a focus on BSM so my Mount Rushmore is a bit more inclusive of general sleep inspirations!

I'd start with the late Thomas Hobbins, MD. He was my father's colleague and the initial sleep physician I shadowed at 17 years old. He was kind and gentle in his patient interactions and inspired people to make sleep changes in a non-judgmental yet highly effective fashion.

Next, I'd add Alan Schwartz, MD and Hartmut Schneider, MD, PhD who saw potential in me as a 20 -year-old kid working night shift as a sleep technician, and brought me into exciting research projects at the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center. Their passion and thirst for knowledge was like nothing I've ever seen!

I would of course also have David Gozal, MD, MBA whose research on pediatric sleep and ADHD inspired my dissertation. My time with Dr. Gozal at University of Chicago was inspirational as every conversation you have with him evokes ideas for future change and progression in the field.

These four individuals are my "sleep heroes" as they inspired the way I interact with the sleep field.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO EARLY CAREER INDIVIDUALS, OR THOSE RESPECIALIZING INTO BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE?

Go full steam ahead! This is an amazing field to be a part of! There is never a dull moment in clinic with insomnia patients. Everyone who walks in the door has a different story of why they sleep so your work is always fun and interesting. You have more job stability having a niche focus compared to generally trained providers. There is still much to learn in sleep so if you love research, there is lots to do!

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP THAT YOU PLAN ON TAKING EITHER IN YOUR RESEARCH PROGRAM OR CLINICAL PRACTICE?

My plan is to continue building a thriving program at University of Chicago. I will keep working hard to stay at the forefront of Behavioral Sleep Medicine practice integrating the newest findings into patient care and teaching.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITY SLEEP RESOURCE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO BE MADE AWARE OF?

My favorite sleep resource involves taking advantage of basic features of our technology systems. I have patients take out their cell phones in clinic and set alarm reminders for everything from filling in the sleep log, to turning off screens to starting worry-time. For my non-tech friendly patients, I sit beside them and show them how to do this. I encourage patients to use reminders for adherence to treatment for other visits as well!

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO LET MEMBERS KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am eager to get more involved with the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine. It is so exciting to see all the progress our group has made throughout the years. I am here to connect further and help however I can! I am extremely passionate about spreading the word that we are here and should come before sleeping pills!!

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT VACATION OR DREAM VACATION?

I just came back from Croatia which was gorgeous! I would love to go to Japan next and practice the Japanese (near forgotten) that I learned in college.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO AWAY FROM THE OFFICE?

Living in Chicago, I do my best to take full advantage of the amazing restaurants and cultural scene.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL TALENTS OR HOBBIES?

I play tennis, have season opera tickets and love kayaking!