Dialysis Assistant: Job Description & Requirements

Dialysis is a medical procedure that helps patients with reduced or impaired kidney function eliminate toxic waste and excessive fluids from their bodies. A dialysis assistant operates a dialysis machine that is responsible for providing hemodialysis and treating drug overdoses. These assistants design protocols and instruct patients in the principles and practices of dialysis. Read further to learn more details about this profession.

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Career Definition for a Dialysis Assistant

A dialysis assistant, or a dialysis technician, is responsible for operating dialysis machines, which are designed to filter waste, excess water, and salt from a person's body. These elements in the blood cause kidneys to fail or become damaged. Dialysis assistants help patients before, during, and after dialysis treatments.

Education High school diploma or equivalent required
Job Skills Clinical skills, CPR certification, able to handle emergencies, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015) $36,788 for renal dialysis technician
Job Growth (2014-2024) 23% for all other health technologists and technicians

Source: Salary.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

According to the National Kidney Foundation, a dialysis assistant must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Training programs can be found at community colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals, and these programs can last anywhere from 12 weeks to one year. Within these programs, you gain training in dialysis machine operation, drug overdose, hemodialysis, and plasmaphoresis. Dialysis assistants must also become nationally certified, and they need to keep up-to-date with the latest procedures and technology.

Skills Required

A career in this field requires clinical skills, the ability to monitor a patient's vital signs, and keeping an eye out for complications. It is also essential to be CPR-certified and prepared to handle any emergency situations. Many patients who receive dialysis treatments do so for chronic disorders, and dialysis assistants must have excellent people skills in order to build up a rapport with patients they may see on a daily or weekly basis. Interpersonal skills are also needed to work effectively with doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.

Economic and Career Outlook

Dialysis assistants can find employment in hospitals, home dialysis programs, or out-patient facilities. According to Salary.com, the median income for a renal dialysis technician was about $36,788 per year as of May 2016. Most positions offer health benefits, vacation, and sick leave, which should be factored into the rate of compensation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that other types of health technologists and technicians, including those in dialysis, will see a much faster than average job growth of 23% for 2014-2024.

Alternate Career Options

Medical Assistant

Some medical assistants earn certificates through post-secondary programs, while others learn their skills for completing clinical and administrative tasks in doctors' offices through on-the-job training. Much faster than average job growth of 23% was forecast by the BLS for these assistants from 2014-2024. In May 2015, a median annual salary of $30,590 was reported by the BLS.

Nursing Assistant

These assistants complete postsecondary programs and pass state exams in order to secure employment providing basic care to patients in nursing facilities and hospitals. They earned an annual median wage of $25,710 in 2015, per the BLS. A faster than average increase in jobs was predicted by the BLS through 2024, with 18% growth expected.

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