What Is a Dialysis Technician?
Dialysis technicians, also known as hemodialysis specialists, are medical professionals that operate dialysis machines, which are necessary for patients experiencing kidney failure. The dialysis technician job description includes following strict protocols to guarantee safe and effective outcomes for patients undergoing this four-hour procedure of dialysis. The most important tasks in the dialysis tech job description are to monitor and adjust fluid removal rate according to patient vital signs and to minimize the possibility of infection through proper equipment handling and sterilization.
According to the National Institute of Health, nih.gov, the most common reason for dialysis is end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a condition when kidneys function at less than ten percent of normal, which is most commonly caused by diabetes.
|Required Education||A high school diploma or equivalent, approved training program and clinical experience are usually required|
|Job Duties||Setting up and maintaining the dialysis machine, monitoring and adjusting fluid removal rate in accordance with vital signs, caring for and educating patients on the procedure, communicating with doctors and nurses|
|Median Salary (2020)*||$40,996 (dialysis technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)**||7% growth (all medical and clinical laboratory technicians)|
Source: *Salary.com and **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Does a Dialysis Tech Do?
So, what does a dialysis technician do? Dialysis technician duties include assembling and maintaining function of the dialysis machine for patients. Dialysis tech jobs also include patient care duties, such as monitoring patient vitals during the dialysis procedure and providing emotional support for patients. Patients may be under great stress during kidney failure and dialysis techs can help by patiently explaining the procedure to patients and making sure they understand what is happening. Dialysis techs also need to be able to communicate with the doctors and nurses providing care to the patient.
A dialysis technician work environment usually includes a medical facility. Hemodialysis technician jobs occur in hospitals, clinics and patient care centers specialized for dialysis. They may work regular shifts during the day or work longer shifts, more similar to nursing shifts.
Some skills that are helpful for a dialysis technician include:
- Good oral communication skills
- Bi or multilingual
- Attention to detail
- Positive outlook
- Extroverted personality
- Teamwork skills
Dialysis Technician Requirements
In most cases, a dialysis technician must have graduated from high school, completed an approved training program and had clinical experience. Training opportunities include on-the-job, employer-sponsored and community college programs. An increasing number of employers desire candidates with training from an accredited dialysis technology program. These programs can take between one to two years and offer training in
An associate degree in medical technology or nephrology provides education on the science behind dialysis, rather than practical skills alone and will allow dialysis technicians to advance to supervisory positions, according to the National Kidney Foundation, www.kidney.org. An associate's degree can open more employment opportunities, access different careers in the medical field and increase salary.
Some states require for dialysis techs to become certified. Candidates can choose one of two national certifications or complete a state sponsored certification program. There are two main options for national certification:
Certified Hemodialysis Technologist/Technician (CHT)
The Certified Hemodialysis Technologist/Technician (CHT) is offered by The Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing Technology (BONENT). The exam consists of 150 questions over three hours on the following topics: patient care, machine technology, water treatment, infection control and professional development. Different states have different requirements for what certifications are needed and when they are able to be taken.
Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT)
The Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) is administered by the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT). This exam also contains 150 multiple choice questions, and is completed over three hours. A passing score of at least 74% is necessary to achieve certification. The exam focuses on CCHT job duties, such as clinical skills, technical skills, role responsibilities, and the medical environment. To sit for this exam, candidates must have completed a dialysis tech training program and had clinical experience prior.
Dialysis technicians are the direct caregivers for those undergoing dialysis, which sometimes occurs as frequently as three times a week for some. In addition to possessing a responsible and detail-oriented nature, technicians need to be able to understand the emotional toll the ongoing process can take on patients.
Economic Outlook for Dialysis Technician Jobs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, health care and social assistance will generate 11.5 million new jobs between 2019 and 2029. The National Kidney Foundation, www.kidney.org, reports that 30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and the number of people with diabetes, the leading cause of end-stage renal disease, continues to grow. Currently, the median salary for a dialysis technician is $40,996 in 2020, according to Salary.com, www.salary.com. All medical and clinical laboratory technicians, which includes dialysis technicians, are expected to enjoy a 7% increase in this field between 2019 and 2029, per the BLS.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
A registered nurse may enter the profession by completing a diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree program. Licensing is also required in all states, for these nurses who provide patient care, in addition to educating patients and the public about health-related matters. They could expect much faster than average employment growth of 7%, from 2019-2029, the BLS predicted. The BLS also revealed the median annual salary of $73,300 for registered nurses in 2019.
This career normally requires a master's degree in an accredited program, and all physician assistants must be licensed by their state. Many of these assistants have bachelor's degrees and experience as registered nurses or as other health care professionals. Much faster than average employment growth of 31% was predicted by the BLS, from 2019-2029, and a median annual wage of $112,260 was reported in 2019.