Dialysis Technician Video: Education Requirements and Career Options
Dialysis Technician Video: Education Requirements and Career Options Transcript
Thanks to modern dialysis technology, those with kidney failure are able to receive treatments that can help them survive until a transplant or another treatment becomes available. Medical assisting professionals, known as dialysis technicians, work alongside a nurse or other health care professional to operate dialysis machines. Nursing professionals and physicians rely upon dialysis technicians to communicate with patients, prepare equipment, record results and more. Dialysis technicians can be trained on the job, but a state approved certificate is required.
Dialysis is a medical procedure that filters toxins and waste from the blood and excess fluid from the body in the event of kidney failure or other diseases. Dialysis technicians prepare patients and operate the equipment used in this process. Completion of a state-approved training program is required, although most training is completed on the job.
Job Duties and Skills
Prior to a treatment session, dialysis technicians sterilize the dialysis machine and prepare it for use. Patients are then given a local anesthetic and are connected to the machine with an intravenous line. The dialysis machine eliminates toxins from the bloodstream and also removes excess fluid caused by the patient's failing kidney. Clean, healthy blood is then returned to the body. During treatment, technicians monitor and record vital signs and report any abnormalities to a supervising nurse or physician. After treatment, the dialysis technician records notes on the procedure and cleans the machine in preparation for the next patient.
Patients with diabetes or those who are waiting for a kidney transplant may receive treatments several times a week. Dialysis technicians do the best they can to make the procedures as painless and relaxed as possible. They also help patients to understand their treatments and what can be done to help them prepare for and recover from their dialysis sessions at home.
Dialysis technicians must be able to follow strict safety procedures in order to prevent the spread of blood borne diseases and infections between patients. They must also be able to accurately record vital signs and treatment results for the benefit of nurses and physicians.
Dialysis technicians are often trained on the job, under the supervision of a registered nurse. In addition to this training, completion of a state approved certification program is also required. These programs are offered by community colleges, vocational schools and even some health care providers. The focus of these programs is on first aid, hygiene and safety skills and the use and maintenance of dialysis equipment.
Some students opt to earn an associate's degree in medical technology or nephrology. Associate's degree programs include additional coursework focusing on the science behind dialysis and other medical technologies, rather than practical career skills alone.
Most dialysis technicians work in hospitals or other clinical settings. Many larger regional and national hospitals have departments with several dialysis units that provide treatment to area patients. Some rural hospitals feature portable dialysis machines that technicians and nurses may load into a van to provide treatment to patients in remote locations.
Larger hospitals and health care providers offer the greatest variety of career options to dialysis technicians. Opportunities for advancement to positions in nursing and other medical technology fields may be available to those who have completed associate degree programs or certification programs.