What Is a Dialysis Technician?

A dialysis technician operates and maintains dialysis machines, which are used to remove waste from the blood of patients who are in acute or end-stage kidney failure. Read on to learn more about the job duties of a dialysis technician. Schools offering Dialysis Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Dialysis Technician Career Overview

Dialysis is a process that removes waste and unneeded water from the bloodstream. When a patient's kidneys fail, a dialysis technician can replace this function with a dialysis machine.

Important Facts About Dialysis Technicians

Median Salary (2018) $52,330 (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 14% (for medical and clinical laboratory technicians)
Similar Occupations Licensed practical nurse, certified dialysis technician, registered nurse
On-The-Job Training Training will be required; field specializations are available
Key Skills Knowledge of machine technology, effective patient communication, and support, ability to operate dialysis equipment

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

As a dialysis technician, you'll prepare patients for dialysis and pay specific attention to their vital signs, ensuring that their dialysis fluids are level. You'll also operate, clean and maintain dialysis machines and related equipment.

Observing the patient during treatment and reporting any complications to a doctor or nurse is another important part of the job. Dialysis technicians must communicate effectively in order to explain procedures to their patients and comfort them if needed. You also might need to instruct patients on how to use an in-home dialysis system.

Required Education

If you're interested in a dialysis technician position, you can enroll in a dialysis technician training or certificate program at a community college or vocational school. During a program, you'll usually complete a clinical period at a dialysis center or hospital. Topics covered in a dialysis technician program usually include:

  • Dialysis principles and procedures
  • Fluid balance
  • Patient care and precautions
  • Human physiology
  • Infection control
  • Dialysis safety issues

Certification

Dialysis technicians must receive certification from their state or from a national certification board within 18 months of starting their careers. National certification is available from organizations including the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission and the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT).

To sit for a hemodialysis technician certification exam, you'll typically need to complete a training program that includes both classroom and clinical elements. BONENT also requires you to hold one year of clinical experience and submit two letters of recommendation before taking an exam.

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