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Sept. 16, 2016 // Fully Charged Member Profile: Nancy Wesensten, Fatigue Risk Management Scientist

Fully Charged Profile: Member Profiles: Fatigue Risk Management Scientist Nancy Wesensten

WESENSTENQ: Tell us about your background. How did you get into your current career field and job?
A: By a series of fortunate coincidences, I ended up conducting my graduate studies in a sleep laboratory in which we evaluated the impact of sleep loss on cognitive performance. That experience segued into a 25-year career doing similar work at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. I always had an interest in translating the lab work into something that would be of use in actual operations – something that I have an opportunity to realize here at the FAA as part of the Air Traffic Operations’ (ATO) Fatigue Risk Management team. The team was well established by the time I joined, so my main task has been to continue the good work and mature the program.

Q: What do you want to see changed or improved in the workplace to mitigate fatigue?
A: Moving to an individualized, performance-based approach to work scheduling rather than a prescriptive rules-based (one size fits all) approach is the ideal. Although a completely individualized approach is still in the future, a fully implemented fatigue risk management system could be implemented soon (and already has been around the globe) and would afford operational units the flexibility required to better reduce their fatigue risk.

Q: Of what accomplishment are you most proud with regards to fatigue risk management and your work on the Fully Charged workgroup?
A: I was able to make some suggestions for tweaks in the way we would implement different functionalities in an alertness app that we are planning, and I hope that these suggestions result in an app that better informs the user about his/her effectiveness status.

Q: Why is Fully Charged important to the workforce?
A: Fully Charged represents a 180-degree turn in the way we view the various factors (number one among them being sleep) that contribute to a top-performing workforce. In the past, sleep was viewed as a waste of time and a sign of weakness. Through the Fully Charged campaign, we’ve been able to change that mentality so that sleep is now accurately viewed as a critical commodity.

Q: How do you stay Fully Charged?
A: I do not sacrifice my sleep time.

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