Why Become a Hemodialysis Technician?
In the ever-evolving field of healthcare, the role of a hemodialysis technician is both impactful and in high demand.
Becoming a hemodialysis technician combines a passion for healthcare with the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of individuals battling kidney disease. These skilled professionals play a vital role in caring for patients undergoing hemodialysis. This procedure removes waste and excess fluids from the blood.
Hemodialysis technicians operate in dialysis centers and healthcare facilities, serving as versatile and highly sought-after experts. This distinct combination of technical proficiency, compassionate patient care, and dedication to precision positions hemodialysis technicians as pivotal members in the world of healthcare.
Education and Training
How Long Do Hemodialysis Programs Take?
Educational programs for hemodialysis technicians will typically take around 12 months to complete. Though many hemodialysis training programs are self-paced, completing the program in a shorter time is possible.
Some may also pursue further clinical experience before getting certified, which would add more time.
How Much Does Hemodialysis Training Cost?
Most training courses for hemodialysis technicians will cost between $3000 – $4000. The cost of education and getting certified is much smaller than similar positions in the field, as most courses can be taken online, making the career a flexible and worthwhile option.
What Do You Study?
Hemodialysis technician training programs usually include a wide variety of topics designed to prepare students both for the CHT exam and success in the field, with subjects covering the following:
- Medical Terminology: Understanding healthcare language, vital for accurate documentation and effective communication with colleagues.
- Machine Maintenance & Operation: Becoming proficient in maintaining and operating dialysis machines and water treatment systems and evaluating operations, ensuring devices are within standards.
- Patient Care: Developing skills required to provide high-quality patient care and keep a clean and safe environment, including management of treatments.
- Professional Development: Understanding opportunities for further education, addressing quality concerns, maintaining accurate documentation, and honing clear communication skills within a dialysis and broader healthcare setting.
How Much Can You Make?
The national average salary for hemodialysis technicians is around $44,000 as of 2023. However, this number can vary greatly depending on experience and additional certification.
While those just starting can expect to make between $35,000 and $40,000, more experienced technicians with additional certifications like the CCHT-A can earn over $55,000.
What Licensing & Certifications are Required?
While specific education pathways and certification requirements vary from state to state, all prospective hemodialysis technicians must complete a training program and sit for the nationally recognized Certified Hemodialysis Technician (CHT) certification offered by the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT).
Prospective hemodialysis technicians can also choose to take the Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) exam offered by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC).
Both options are recognized across the US, and education requirements for both are the same. Additionally, after earning one of the above certifications and gaining 5 years and 5,000 hours of experience in the field, hemodialysis technicians also become eligible to earn the Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician – Advanced (CCHT-A) certification for additional credibility.
What Does a Hemodialysis Tech Do?
The primary job duties of a hemodialysis technician involve operating and maintaining hemodialysis machines for patients with kidney disease. This involves caring for patients and assessing and monitoring individuals before, during, and after each treatment session, prioritizing comfort and safety. Additionally, hemodialysis technicians must maintain a sterile environment to prevent infection, which involves cleaning dialysis machines and equipment and ensuring they comply with operation standards.
Where Can They Work?
Hemodialysis technicians can find employment in various healthcare settings where kidney disease management is needed. These include larger hospitals, outpatient dialysis centers, smaller clinics, and specialized renal care facilities. Additionally, some may work in home hemodialysis programs, providing treatment within patients’ homes under medical supervision. The versatility of this profession makes hemodialysis technicians vital in a wide range of settings, offering no shortage of employment opportunities to choose from.
What’s the Work Environment Like?
While job hours vary significantly depending on the employment location, hemodialysis technicians can often work regular daytime shifts in outpatient centers or dialysis clinics. However, in settings like larger hospitals, some might be required to work evenings, weekends, or even on-call shifts as dialysis is an around-the-clock healthcare service.
The work can also be physically demanding, as it may involve assisting patients in and out of treatment chairs and helping with vascular access (e.g., inserting IV needles).
That being said, the work environment can also be incredibly rewarding as hemodialysis technicians work one-on-one with patients, offering an opportunity to positively impact patients’ lives.
Skillsets & Personality Traits
Prospective hemodialysis technicians should possess a strong knowledge of technical aspects, like machine operation, and a compassionate and caring attitude when working with patients. Many patients undergoing treatment are likely to be elderly or receiving end-of-life/palliative care, so a kind and attentive attitude is necessary.
Attention to detail and overall precision in operating equipment is crucial to ensure patient safety. Additionally, adaptability and the ability to work well in a team are valuable traits, as healthcare can present many diverse challenges.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected job growth rate for all health technologists and technicians is a higher-than-average 7% for 2022 – 2032. As the prevalence of kidney disease continues to rise, there is an increasing need for professionals who can provide the necessary care, ensuring steady job opportunities in various healthcare settings. Furthermore, as dialysis is often an outsourced procedure for hospitals, many independent dialysis centers continue to open, offering additional positions.
After gaining experience, hemodialysis technicians can also choose to earn additional certifications in various areas like pediatric or home dialysis. Pursuing further education can also open doors to positions in healthcare management, quality control, or as an instructor in a training program.