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What does a Dialysis Technician do?

For many career hopefuls, finding an in-demand job helping others is about as satisfying as it gets. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care is not only the largest, but one of the fastest growing industries in the nation. Dialysis technicians are relatively quick-entry health care pros who stand to benefit from this trend.

What do dialysis technicians do?

When a patient suffers from kidney failure, they often undergo dialysis, a procedure that removes excess salt or other harmful waste from the blood. Dialysis technicians oversee the dialysis process, monitoring patients and recording their vital signs. Other duties can include some of the following responsibilities:
  • Administering drugs or local anesthetics under supervision
  • Assessing patient risks
  • Administering emergency treatment
  • Teaching patients how to perform their own dialysis treatments from home
To really excel as a dialysis technician, you must have a strong attention to detail, the ability to translate sometimes complicated medical information in a way that patients understand, and an excellent bedside manner.

Dialysis technicians typically work in hospitals or outpatient care centers, but some work in the home health industry, administering treatments within patients' homes. With ongoing training and experience, techs can eventually advance to chief technician positions demanding better wages, but also more responsibility. Some choose to return to school to become licensed vocational or registered nurses.

How to become a dialysis technician

According to a career report from the California Employment Development Department (CA EDD), dialysis technicians must be certified to practice. This certification process typically requires a year or two of training, typically through college or in-hospital training programs.

While some employers find on-the-job training sufficient, they increasingly prefer to hire those with degrees or certificates through accredited dialysis technician schools. Note that most states require dialysis technicians to complete a certain number of continuing education courses each year to ensure their skills remain current and sharp.

Employment and salary trends for dialysis techs

The BLS has listed dialysis technicians as one of the key emerging U.S. careers. Today, aging baby boomers are boosting overall demand for dialysis technicians considerably, though the BLS has not published specific projections. Opportunities are best for those with the right combination of education and experience, especially certified techs with college training.

The CA EDD notes that many dialysis technicians enhance their overall career and earning potential by becoming licensed vocational or registered nurses, dialysis machine maintenance technicians or other specialized health care therapists.

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