Dialysis Assistant Training Programs and Requirements

Dialysis assistants are responsible for setting up, cleaning and maintaining dialysis equipment under the supervision of a physician. Formal educational programs for dialysis assistants aren't commonly available; however, individuals interested in this field can find certificate programs in this discipline.

Essential Information

Dialysis assistants prepare and maintain dialysis equipment, including the machines that filter salt and excess water from patients' blood due to damaged or failing kidneys. Most positions in this field only require applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED; however, some dialysis assistants may also need to have basic nursing skills and be CPR certified. A dialysis technician certificate program may help individuals receive training to advance in this field.

Vocational schools, community colleges and hospitals offer dialysis technician training programs, which can vary in length from 12 weeks to one year. Depending upon the program, students may receive hands-on dialysis experience in healthcare facilities.

  • Program Levels in Dialysis Assisting: Certificate programs.
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Program Length: One semester for patient care technician programs, one year for renal dialysis technician programs.
  • Other Requirements: Some programs require clinical experience.

Dialysis Patient Care Technician Certificate

A dialysis patient care certificate program typically lasts one semester and provides only classroom instruction. Students learn about patient rights, regulatory agencies, medical problems related to dialysis and treatment modalities. Typical courses include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Nursing
  • Kidney function

Renal Dialysis Technician Certificate

A 1-year certificate program for renal dialysis technicians prepares students to work with patients dealing with hemodialysis, a type of renal replacement therapy that removes waste and extra fluid and balances electrolytes through an artificial kidney. Students spend time in classroom instruction, labs and clinical settings. Course topics for this certificate program include:

  • Fundamentals of renal dialysis
  • Hemodialysis
  • Renal failure

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to BLS, nursing assistants make an average annual income of $26,250 as of May 2014. The job outlook for this career from 2012 to 2022 is expected to grow 21%, which is faster than average compared to all other occupations.

Continuing Education Information

Several professional organizations sponsor annual dialysis conferences that feature keynote speakers regarding chronic kidney diseases, clinical trials and nephrology. These 3-4 day conferences allow attendees to network with other industry members and ask questions of top experts. National associations, such as the National Kidney Foundation, also host 3-5 day clinical meetings for renal healthcare professionals, which includes dialysis assistants. Participants learn about evolving concepts about kidney disease and participate in practical workshops and symposia.

Voluntary certification programs are also available for dialysis technicians. The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission, for example, offers a certified clinical hemodialysis technician program that requires completing a training program for hemodialysis patient care with classroom and clinical experience. It is recommended that applicants have a minimum of six months or 1,000 hours of clinical experience prior to taking the examination.

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