As you review your education and career options make sure to consider the opportunities available in the health care field. As a health care worker you can help other people while making a future for yourself. The health care field offers its own challenges and rewards. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for health care jobs should continue to grow faster than demand for most other jobs for at least the next decade. There are many career paths within the health care field to consider. One way to begin your health care career is to enroll in a dialysis technician training program to become a dialysis technician.
Dialysis, also called hemodialysis, is the name for a medical procedure performed on patients suffering from kidney failure (also known as renal failure). During a dialysis treatment the patient is attached to a hemodialysis machine that filters the patient's blood. The dialysis machine removes a portion of the patient's blood, filters out the waste products and then returns the clean blood to the patient's circulatory system. The patient's blood and body chemistry is monitored through the entire procedure. A complete dialysis treatment, where a patientӳ entire blood supply is treated, lasts several hours.
Dialysis Technician Overview
A dialysis technician, also referred to as a hemodialysis technician, works directly with patients under the supervision of a Registered Nurse. The duties of a dialysis technician include preparing the dialysis machine and supplies, administering local anesthesia, prepping the patient and monitoring the patient during the dialysis procedure.
Dialysis technicians are also responsible for medical documentation, communication with both the patient and the nurse and clean up after the procedure is done. The job requires manual aptitude, close attention to detail and a mix of technical and interpersonal skills. Dialysis technicians spend a lot of time with their patients and, therefore, must be able to interact with patients on a personal level. Dialysis technicians are also trained to respond to any medical emergencies that can occur during treatment.
Dialysis technicians are employed by hospitals, outpatient clinics and home dialysis services. Because treatment is primarily performed as a scheduled procedure, most technicians work regular scheduled shifts. Technicians typically work on a full-time basis, although some part-time jobs are available. Work hours and scheduling requirements can vary by employer and technicians who provide home dialysis treatments may have to drive considerable distances to work with their patients.
Dialysis Technician Training: Degrees and Coursework
The minimum requirement for dialysis technician training is a high school diploma or equivalent. A background in high school biology, chemistry or other science-related field is helpful. Dialysis technician training programs vary by state due to differing certification requirements. Some programs last 6 to 12 weeks while others require one or two semesters of class work. Some of the information that students learn includes:
- Chemistry of the human body
- Function of the kidneys
- How renal failure affects the body
- The theory of hemodialysis
- How to perform common dialysis procedures
Substantial on-the-job training is typically required and technicians also need to pass state certification exams.
Dialysis Technician Career Outlook
The career prospects for dialysis technicians are good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes dialysis technicians in their general projections for all health care jobs. The latest BLS data indicates that the health care field should generate more jobs than any other industry between 2008 and 2018 with an estimated 3.2 million new jobs being created during that time.
The BLS notes health technologists (including dialysis technicians) earned a median annual salary of $38,490 in 2009. Many employers offer health care and other benefits to full-time dialysis technicians. Some employers also offer tuition reimbursement or assistance for employees who wish to use their knowledge of medical equipment and hospital procedures to seek out other relevant training.
Resources for Dialysis Technicians