Dialysis Tech Schools
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There are many good reasons to pursue a career in healthcare, but perhaps none is so noble as wanting to spend your career helping others live a happier, healthier life. As a dialysis technician, a position also referred to as hemodialysis technician, you can truly make a difference in the lives of those with chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. It is a career in high demand, as the population in the United States continues to age and the incidence of type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for kidney disease, continues to climb.
Becoming a dialysis technician is a major decision, but it is possible to find a trusted dialysis school that can lead interested students down the right path. These institutions may offer classroom instruction or online courses, in addition to clinical practicums that give students the opportunity to work directly with patients, under supervision, so that they are prepared for their new career. Dialysis tech programs prepare graduates to take national or state-approved certification exams so that they are ready to work in a hospital, home care setting or dialysis center. Because dialysis training can take as little as a semester, it is easy to make the choice and start working and earning quickly.
Keep reading to learn more about the possibilities available for those who decide to become dialysis technicians.
|Dialysis Technician fast facts|
|Projected Jobs Created||42,700|
|Projected Job Growth||14%|
|Sourced from BLS, June 2018|
Degree & Certification Programs
In order to apply for proper certification as a Dialysis Technician, either through the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT) or through the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT), students must have either a requisite amount of experience or must complete an approved training program. For the typical dialysis technician program, there are very few prerequisites. It is common to find a school that requires only a high school diploma or GED in order to enroll. An approved program may take as little as one semester to complete. The following dialysis technician schools have been approved by BONENT to prepare students for work as a dialysis technician. A complete list of BONENT approved dialysis tech schools is available on their website.
Central Georgia Technical College: At CGTC, students interested in pursuing a career as a dialysis technician can enroll in the Hemodialysis Patient Care Specialist Technical Certificate, Hemodialysis Reuse/Reprocessing Technical Certificate, or the Hemodialysis Technology Diploma program. Each program was specifically designed in conjunction with local dialysis centers in order to train students that are experienced and knowledgeable enough to enter the workforce. The diploma program requires 37 total credits, including general education courses while the technical certificate programs require 16 or 17 credits, depending on which one is chosen.
In addition to standard classroom training, there are also dialysis centers that offer prospective dialysis technicians the opportunity to learn on the job. These types of programs may hire someone with little or no dialysis experience and allow them to earn hours working as a dialysis technician in order to qualify for the certification exam. For example:
Center for Dialysis Care: Located in Shaker Heights, Ohio, the CDC offers dialysis technician training in addition to dialysis care. Because there is often a higher demand for dialysis technicians than there are properly trained technicians available, CDC will hire technicians with little to no experience and train them while they are employed. Additionally, those who are already certified dialysis technicians may qualify for hiring bonuses.
DaVita Healthcare Partners: DaVita is a national brand of dialysis centers that is dedicated to treating patients with chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. DaVita offers incoming employees the opportunity to train as dialysis technicians while they work in the dialysis setting, which can be an affordable solution for many prospective technicians.
List of Dialysis Technician Schools
|Central Georgia Technical College||Warner Robins||Georgia||www.centralgatech.edu||72|
|Platt College-Los Angeles||Alhambra||California||www.plattcollege.edu||37|
|Blue Cliff College-Metairie||Metairie||Louisiana||www.bluecliffcollege.edu||30|
|Atlantic Technical College||Coconut Creek||Florida||www.atlantictechnicalcollege.edu||27|
|National Polytechnic College||Lakewood||California||www.npcollege.edu||27|
|Midwestern Career College||Chicago||Illinois||www.mccollege.edu||22|
|Clover Park Technical College||Lakewood||Washington||www.cptc.edu||20|
|Dorsey Business Schools-Wayne||Wayne||Michigan||www.dorsey.edu||16|
|Orange Technical College-Winter Park Campus||Winter Park||Florida||www.orangetechcollege.net/campuses/winter_park||15|
|Blue Cliff College-Lafayette||Lafayette||Louisiana||bluecliffcollege.edu||13|
|Atlanta Technical College||Atlanta||Georgia||atlantatech.edu||12|
|Florida Panhandle Technical College||Chipley||Florida||fptc.edu||12|
|Delgado Community College||New Orleans||Louisiana||www.dcc.edu||11|
|Richmond Community College||Hamlet||North Carolina||www.richmondcc.edu||11|
|Palm Beach Academy of Health & Beauty-Distinct Health Educational Center||Lauderhill||Florida||pbacademy.net||10|
|Southern Crescent Technical College||Griffin||Georgia||www.sctech.edu||10|
|Southern University at Shreveport||Shreveport||Louisiana||www.susla.edu||10|
|Blue Cliff College-Gulfport||Gulfport||Mississippi||bluecliffcollege.edu||9|
|Blue Cliff College-Shreveport||Shreveport||Louisiana||bluecliffcollege.edu||8|
|Chemeketa Community College||Salem||Oregon||www.chemeketa.edu||6|
|Community College of Rhode Island||Warwick||Rhode Island||www.ccri.edu||5|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Milwaukee||Wisconsin||matc.edu||5|
|Healthcare Training Institute||Kenner||Louisiana||healthcaretraininginstitutenola.net||4|
|Pittsburgh Career Institute||Pittsburgh||Pennsylvania||www.pci.edu||4|
|Robert Morgan Educational Center and Technical College||Miami||Florida||rmec.dadeschools.net||3|
|Northcentral Technical College||Wausau||Wisconsin||www.ntc.edu||2|
|Blue Cliff College-Houma||Houma||Louisiana||bluecliffcollege.edu||1|
Hybrid & online programs
There are many courses required for a dialysis certification that can be feasibly transferred to an online format. For this reason, a number of schools have begun to introduce online training programs as a precursor to practical clinical experiences.
The following dialysis tech schools offer courses that can be completed entirely online:
University of Tennessee – Martin: At UTM, students can complete an online, self-paced program in the dialysis technician specialty. There are no prerequisites for enrolling in the program, although students should either have or be in the process of obtaining a high school diploma or GED. Notably, there is no externship or hands-on training offered as part of this program so students will want to be sure to pursue their own clinical training.
Columbia Southern University: The online program at CSU is offered as part of the university’s online continuing education program. The four-month program includes 375 contact hours and is designed to cover the necessary fundamentals for future certification.
The following programs have a hybrid setup wherein students can complete the classroom portion of the program online prior to engaging in practical, hands-on training.
St. Bernadette of Lourdes Center: This dialysis and education center offers a hybrid online and practical training program. The theory portion of the r Hemodialysis training program can be completed online. In conjunction with these theory courses, students must complete a Related Learning Experience (RLE) in a dialysis setting.
Stratford University: At Stratford University, students have the flexibility to take both online and in-person courses as part of their Hemodialysis Technician degree program. The program culminates in an associate of applied science (AAS) degree.
|Lake Superior College||Duluth||Minnesota||www.lsc.edu||3|
Core & Elective Courses
Although the fundamentals of dialysis technician training are the same, the curriculum for any single program will depend largely on whether the program leads to a degree or a non-credit certificate. At minimum, dialysis technician programs cover the basics of kidney function as well as the progression of kidney disease and end-stage renal failure. More in-depth programs may take the time to cover overall anatomy as well. In addition, dialysis technicians must learn how to operate dialysis equipment as well as how to keep that equipment well maintained. Basic hemodialysis technician curricula also include phlebotomy since accessing a vein in order to use the dialysis equipment is a necessary part of the job. Of course, as with any healthcare profession, dialysis technicians need to be sensitive to the needs of their patients. While a proper bedside manner can not always be taught, most curricula include some semblance of proper patient care and communication.
In programs that lead to a degree, students may be required to take core educational classes in such topics as communications, composition, and mathematics. These programs are also where electives may come into play. Dialysis technician students can choose to take electives in the allied health field to further their expertise, but that is not a requirement for most electives.
Although many dialysis technician schools or programs are not specifically accredited, it can be important to look at institutional accreditation that addresses the school as a whole. Community colleges may be accredited by their local higher learning accreditation agency. For instance, schools located in midwestern states might have earned accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website can help to determine which accrediting body is most likely to cover the schools in your region. Although the accreditation process for each accrediting body may differ slightly, most rely on a self-study from the school, followed by a site visit from a member of the accreditation board. This process usually covers faculty, facilities, and general practices of the school, ensuring that certain standards are met so that students have an effective learning experience.
Dialysis programs may also have healthcare specific accreditation, also known as programmatic accreditation, from a source such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Because the members of this accreditation agency have expertise in healthcare, they are better able to accredit specific programs, rather than entire schools. Prospective students may visit the CAAHEP website for more information on tat organization's specific accreditation process and to find accredited schools and programs.
Additionally, a number of dialysis technician programs have been approved by BONENT. The programs approved by BONENT may not necessarily meet the requirements of official CAAHEP accreditation since not all of them are offered by institutions of higher learning. Still, the BONENT seal of approval does mean that these programs are designed to prepare students for the CHT exam upon graduation. A list of approved training programs is available on the BONENT website and includes dialysis tech schools in 11 states.
Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track numbers that are unique to dialysis technicians, data sourced from that organization does not necessarily offer a complete picture of the career. Rather, the numbers available from the BLS track all Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians as one group, which includes dialysis technicians in addition to a wide range of other medical occupations. The career outlook for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians is quite good, with a growth rate of 14 percent expected through 2026 (BLS 2017). There are many reasons for this faster than average growth, chief among them being the aging U.S. population who will continue to need more medical attention as time goes on. For dialysis technicians specifically, the rising rate of type 2 diabetes is expected to contribute to an increased demand, since that disease is a major risk factor for kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Indeed, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. As with other healthcare professions, the demand for hemodialysis technicians does not tend to decrease or fluctuate with the economy, which can make it an attractive choice for those that do not want to take that type of career risk.
|Career Facts||Dialysis Technician|
|Related Careers||Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician|
|Common Job Titles||Dialysis Technician, Certified Hemodialysis Technologist, Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT), Certified Hemodialysis Technician|
|Technology & Equipment||Dialysis Machine, Computers, Medical and Productivity Software|
|Sourced from BLS, June 2018|
Licensing & Certification
Hemodialysis technicians must be licensed in order to work unsupervised. Even those programs that accept trainees without prior experience generally require those individuals to obtain certification as soon as they are qualified. There are a two nationally recognized certification agencies as well as state licensing procedures in some states.
The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) offers exams for a Certification for Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) and for Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician Advanced (CCHT-A). The NNCC recommends that applicants have at least six months of work as a dialysis technician before sitting for the CCHT exam, and five years of clinical experience for the CCHT-A exam.
BONENT offers an exam for Certified Hemodialysis Technologist/Technician (CHT), which requires either 12 months of clinical experience or the satisfactory completion of an approved educational program before sitting for the exam. The National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT) offers a full breakdown of each certification available on its website. NANT "encourages technicians to earn certification from the appropriate credentialing organization." This national credentialing is one of the best ways to demonstrate expertise and ensure the highest level of care for dialysis patients.
However, it is essential to note that certifications are not necessarily required at a state level. For instance, in California a dialysis technician must have earned his or her certification from either a national exam such as those mentioned above, or from the California Dialysis Council exam. In addition, all technicians must be certified by the California Department of Public Health. Keep in mind this is only for the state of California. Any prospective dialysis technician should be sure to check with their local department of health, board of nursing, or other certifying agency to determine the licensing requirements in their state.