Dialysis Technician Training 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 a 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 significant risk factor for kidney disease, continues to climb.
Becoming a dialysis technician is a major decision, and it’s necessary 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 allow students to work directly with patients under supervision so that they are prepared for their new careers. 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 choose a program and start working and earning quickly.
Careers in dialysis technician training have a long history of professional support from the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing Technology or BONENT. For the past 45 years, BONET’s mission has been to “promote excellence in nursing and technology globally through credentialing exams that enhance the care of patients with kidney disease.” More than 7,500 nurses and dialysis technicians are certified by BONET worldwide, and members of this organization must recertify every four years by earning continuing education credits.
Keep reading to learn more about the growing career opportunities for dialysis technicians.
|Dialysis Technician Fast Facts: 2019 to 2029|
|Projected Jobs Created||24,700|
|Projected Job Growth||7 percent|
|Entry-Level EDU||Certificate, associate’s or bachelor’s degree|
|Sourced from BLS May 2020|
Dialysis Technician Degree & Certification Programs
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 to enroll. An approved program may take as little as one semester to complete. BONENT has approved the following dialysis technician schools to prepare students for work as dialysis technicians. A complete list of BONENT approved dialysis tech schools is available on their website.
Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC): 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 to train students 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.
American College Health & Sciences (ACHS): At ACHS, students can earn a hemodialysis technician diploma which prepares them for entry-level positions in kidney dialysis healthcare facilities. Upon completing this program, students are ready to sit for national certification exams and work as integral parts of renal healthcare teams.
This program can be completed in seven months and covers topics such as identifying treatment options for renal failure, knowledge of principles of hemodialysis and operation of hemodialysis machinery, and other professional protocols. To be eligible for employment after earning this diploma, students must pass the BONET certified hemodialysis technician (CHT) exam.
On-the-Job Dialysis Technician Training Programs
In addition to formal 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 to qualify for the certification exam. Here are two examples of on-the-job dialysis technician training programs.
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 properly trained technicians available, the CDC will hire technicians with little to no experience and teach them while 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 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 working in the dialysis setting, which can be an affordable solution for many prospective technicians. DaVita is an international company with several dialysis centers located throughout the United States.
List of Dialysis Technician Training 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 Dialysis Technician Training Programs
There are many courses required for a dialysis certification that can be feasibly transferred to an online format. For this reason, many 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.
Blue Cliff College (BCC): Students looking for training that prepares them for entry-level positions as dialysis technicians can enroll in the diploma program at Blue Cliff College. This 72-credit program is based on the quarter system and is offered at campuses throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Students can complete this program in 12 months and choose from on-campus, hybrid, or online course formats.
The Mississippi Commission accredits BCC on Proprietary School and College Registration and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes this organization.
St. Bernadette of Lourdes Center: This dialysis and education center in Houston, Texas, offers a hybrid certificate and practical training program. The theory portion of the hemodialysis training program can be completed online while clinical experience is gained in an on-site setting.
Experienced instructors teach courses with profound dialysis setting professional expertise. In conjunction with these theory courses, students must complete a Related Learning Experience (RLE) in a dialysis setting. Students can complete the program in four to five months, during which time students will learn basic knowledge of end-stage renal disease. Prerequisite courses in basic first aid and CPR are offered in addition to BONET-approved continuing education courses.
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. This online program provides six months of access to a self-paced eLearning course, and the curriculum objectives are aligned with leading certification exams.
Topics covered in this course include introductory body chemistry, acute renal failure and dialysis, and handling of hazardous materials. Students learn in an interactive online environment and have access to student services that support online learning. Some courses include externships or hands-on training offered as part of this program.
Utopia Health Career Center: Based in Kissimmee, Florida, Utopia Health Career Center offers BONET-approved hemodialysis courses online: certified hemodialysis technologist/technician (CHT), certified hemodialysis nurse (CHN), and dialysis continuing education for technicians and nurses. Renal and dialysis seminars are offered as continuing education credits for community members who already hold hemodialysis certification. Continuing education courses include renal diet, understanding home hemodialysis, understanding kidney transplant, and vascular access for hemodialysis.
|Lake Superior College||Duluth||Minnesota||www.lsc.edu||3|
Dialysis Technician Training - Core & Elective Courses
Although the fundamentals of dialysis technician training are the same, the curriculum for any single program will depend primarily on whether the program leads to a degree or a non-credit certificate. At a 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 adequate 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.
Dialysis Technician Training Accreditation
Although many dialysis technician schools or programs are not accredited, it can be essential 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 each accreditation process’s accreditation process may differ slightly, most rely on a self-study from the school, followed by a site visit from an accreditation board member. This process usually covers faculty, facilities, and general practices of the school, ensuring that specific standards are met so that students have a practical learning experience.
Dialysis programs may also have healthcare-specific accreditation, 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 that organization's exact accreditation process and 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. Instead, the numbers available from the BLS track all 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 7 percent expected through 2029 (BLS 2020). 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 increased demand since that disease is a significant risk factor for kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
Indeed, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 34 million Americans have diabetes and approximately 88 million Americans have prediabetes—and 84 percent are unaware that they have it (CDC 2019). As with other healthcare professions, the demand for hemodialysis technicians does not tend to decrease or fluctuate with the economy, making it an attractive choice for those who do not want to take that type of career risk.
|Career Facts||Dialysis Technician|
|Related Careers||Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians|
|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 May 2020|
Licensing & Certification for Dialysis Technicians
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 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. 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.