Become a Kidney Dialysis Tech
Kidney dialysis technicians, more commonly known as renal dialysis or hemodialysis technicians, work in dialysis centers and hospitals under the supervision of registered nurses. Duties include equipment setup, patient preparation, and administration of treatment to patients with kidney failure or chronic kidney disease using venipuncture.
These technicians are responsible for monitoring patients, checking blood pressure, and obtaining pertinent health information. Techs may spend many hours standing, and some may experience negative reactions from dealing with individuals who have chronic or end state kidney issues on a daily basis. Alternately, some techs may feel extremely rewarded by the small positives they can bring to these patients' lives with a smile and friendly conversation.
|Education Required||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Certification||Required; each state has its own certification methods and preferences|
|Experience||Experience working in a healthcare setting is helpful|
|Key Skills||Patience, attention to detail, good interpersonal communication skills; use and maintenance of dialysis equipment|
|Salary (2016)||$32,377 per year (Median salary for dialysis technicians)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com
Now let's check out the career steps for dialysis techs.
Step 1: Decide Whether the Job Is Right for You
Kidney dialysis technicians often work with extremely ill patients. Technicians can work day or night, and some hospitals schedule technicians for 12-hour shifts. Extensive patient interaction requires technicians to establish excellent communication.
Step 2: Complete a Dialysis Technician Training or Degree Program
Dialysis technician training is usually offered at the certificate level, although associate degree programs are also available. Certificate programs are generally two semesters long and award a technical diploma or certificate upon graduation. Academic coursework and clinical experiences teach students about medical terminology, patient care, and operation of dialysis equipment. Some programs require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and a year of high school or college biology as prerequisites.
An associate's degree program includes coursework in basic hemodialysis principles and procedures, medical terminology, anatomy, and diagnostic procedures, as well as a required number of hours in clinical experience. These programs typically take two years to complete.
Step 3: Become Board Certified
Certification requirements vary from state to state. Some require that technicians become certified by the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT), the certifying body that administers the exam for the Certified Hemodialysis Technician (CHT) designation. Another option is to become certified by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC), which awards Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) certification upon successful completion of a written exam.
Prerequisites for taking the BONENT exam include a high school diploma, as well as one year of nephrology patient care experience or completion of a BONENT-accredited education program. Exam questions cover patient care, water treatment, dialyzer reprocessing, machine technology, and personal development.
For the NNCC exam, prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED, successful completion of a nephrology technician training program and documented proof of how many hours the applicant has spent in a clinical setting, either as part of a training program or employment experience.
Step 4: Join a Professional Organization
The National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT) is a professional organization that offers its members opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge of the field. In addition to its yearly symposium, NANT offers complimentary subscriptions to industry-related publications, reduced fees for monthly webinars and contacts within the industry. NANT also posts volunteer opportunities for its members to be involved in its emergency preparedness network.
To recap, with a postsecondary education, experience, and certification, a dialysis technician can earn about $32,000 a year to monitor renal patients, check blood pressure, and obtaining pertinent health information.