Dialysis Certification and Training Programs

Dialysis, also called hemodialysis, is the medical process of filtering waste from the blood of kidney failure patients. Learn about the training programs that teach you how to operate dialysis machinery, and find out how to qualify for certification.

What is Dialysis?

In the medical field, dialysis - also referred to as hemodialysis - involves the filtering of waste from the human bloodstream through an external machine. This process is commonly required among individuals with kidney failure. Hemodialysis should not be confused with peritoneal dialysis, a similar, less common procedure in which blood-borne waste is managed internally rather than externally.

Dialysis Description Filtering waste from the bloodstream through an external machine
Program Overview Certificate programs, training to operate kidney dialysis machines, offered at community and technical colleges
Common Courses Hemodialysis technology, medical terminology, vascular access procedures, equipment sterilization
Certification Dialysis technicians must be certified; continuing education required every 3-4 years for recertification

What Kinds of Training Programs Are Available?

Dialysis and hemodialysis technician certificate programs are usually offered at community and technical colleges. Most of the programs take less than one year to complete. You'll need to earn a high school diploma before gaining program admission. Additional prerequisites may include professional certification in a related field, like medical assisting, or work experience in the health care industry. Because hands-on training with kidney dialysis machines is required, most programs are only available in a campus-based format.

What Will I Learn?

You'll learn how to assess dialysis patients, provide dialysis treatment and communicate with nurses and physicians. Core program topics usually include hemodialysis technology, equipment sterilization, medical terminology and vascular access procedures. You may need to complete a clinical internship at a hospital or health care facility in order to earn your certificate.

Do I Need Certification?

As of 2008, the federal government requires all dialysis technicians to obtain certification within 18 months of employment. Certification is available through a variety of organizations, including the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology, the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission and the National Nephrology Certification Organization.

Requirements for certification usually include completion of a postsecondary training program and a certification exam, as well as professional experience in a clinical dialysis center. Certification exams cover many of the same topics as those discussed in dialysis certificate programs, like clinical procedures, infection control, patient care and water treatment. You'll need to take some continuing education classes every 3-4 years in order to apply for recertification.

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