A dialysis technician is an entry-level healthcare provider who works under the direction of a registered nurse or licensed physician and who is responsible for performing a number of activities associated with the administration of dialysis treatment. Employment opportunities for technicians in the dialysis field have skyrocketed over the past twenty years as the prevalence of end stage renal failure has increased. This trend is largely the result of the widespread adoption of poor dietary and exercise behaviors within the United States. Individuals who suffer from obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure tend to slowly experience progressively declining renal function as their disease creates more and more damage in the body. Once the body has lost approximately 80% of its ability to remove potentially harmful water and waste, the individual is typically required to begin receiving dialysis in order to survive.
In general, a technician working in the dialysis industry is not expected to have a college degree in order to be considered for an open position. According to federal guidelines, individuals who plan on working in the specialty must have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a training program offered by the hiring facility or an independent educational institution, and successfully pass a state or nationally recognized certification examination. Although there are several colleges and universities that offer a certificate program for dialysis technicians, many employers have created their own courses that offer the basic knowledge and skills required to become successful. As always, it is a good idea to contact the employer before enrolling in a program to make sure that it has been approved and will be accepted.
One important consideration to think about when deciding how to acquire the knowledge needed to become a successful dialysis technician is the organization through which an individual intends to take a certification exam. While some certifying companies do not require applicants to complete an approved training program, the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT) does have a list of approved programs that they consider adequate to become eligible to take their exams. Those who plan to complete a BONENT exam might want to contact them prior to enrolling in a program just to make sure that it will allow them to become eligible to sit for the examination of choice. Directors at local dialysis treatment facilities will also typically recommend a specific exam to new employees.
Aspiring technicians who plan on completing a certification exam offered through Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) or the National Nephrology Certification Organizations (NNCO) will be expected to have a high school diploma or GED and will need to complete a training program before a test date is selected. Again, local employers will often direct technicians toward the organization that is preferred within the region. Aside from completing in-house training or a local dialysis technician school program, some individuals choose to supplement their education and prepare for the certification exam using the Kidney School and Core Curriculum for the Dialysis Technician handbook offered through the Medical Education Institute.
The dialysis technician career path is one of the fastest growing and most rewarding job opportunities available in the healthcare sector. Those who want to be able to make a positive contribution to public health without having to complete several years of college education and postgraduate training should consider learning more about this profession. Although government and employer expectations vary among regions, the hurdles that must be crossed in order to become a technician in this specialty are relatively low compared to other high paying allied health career fields. Aspiring technicians can learn more about the requirements in their area by contacting healthcare facilities and educational institutions directly.