Dialysis technicians are a vital cog in the medical process of renal care. Working under the supervision of nurses or doctors, the dialysis tech takes care of the highly technical machines required to artificially cleanse a patient’s blood. Those suffering from kidney damage or ailments that cause waste products to collect in the blood stream require it to be cleaned out using a dialysis machine, which literally filters out the toxins. The nature of the human body means that this is something that has to be performed gradually over several hours. This also means it is a treatment that needs to be monitored.
The responsibilities of a dialysis technician are diverse and require high levels of technical aptitude, physical endurance and good social skills. The first and foremost job of a dialysis tech is to maintain and sterilize the machinery. This is important in order to be sure that the dialysis machine is fully operable and will not cause potentially harmful infections to the patient. The ability to work with and advise the dialysis patient is vital to put them at ease and educate them as to things they can do to limit the frequency of their visits. This advice includes things like dietary information and lifestyle tips.
Along with monitoring the dialysis machines, the technician has to monitor the patient’s vital signs throughout the long blood cleansing process. This includes taking medical histories, checking on blood pressure and watching out for signs of medical distress. It is often possible that a technician may have several patients undergoing treatment at the same time, so they have to be physically capable of moving back and forth between machines and standing for long periods of time.
Training and Education
The basic academic requirement for starting a dialysis technician program is either a high school diploma or a GED. Training programs vary state to state, but a program must be accredited in order for technicians to receive clearance to work. Programs can be available in colleges, universities, technical schools or hospitals. Topics generally covered in courses include machine operation, chemistry of the body and in depth training on the renal system along with its related illnesses. Depending on the state, a dialysis technician will either have to achieve a diploma or be certified in order to practice. In order to keep current on new machinery and treatment methods, dialysis technicians often have to take regular refresher courses.
Above and beyond the technical and medical training required to become a technician, an applicant is often advised to take courses in social sciences. This is in order to help prepare the technician for the psychological aspects that come along with the job. Dealing daily with people who are often very ill and who may succumb to their ailments can be taxing on an emotional level. This makes it important to develop a certain level of detachment, while still being warm and caring towards patients.
The salary level for the average dialysis tech is between $26,000 and $34,000 a year. This, of course, is very dependent on experience level, work type and in which state the tech is certified. The more experienced a technician is, and the better their qualifications, the more they can potentially earn.