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 help lead you 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 entirely prepared for their new career. Dialysis tech programs prepare you to take national or state approved certification exams so that you are ready to work in a hospital, home care setting or dialysis center upon graduation. 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 to you should you decide to become a dialysis technician.
|Dialysis Technician fast facts|
|Projected Jobs Created||47,900|
|Projected Job Growth||30%|
|Average Salary (Median)||$57,580|
|Sourced from BLS, January 2015|
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 school available for enrollment, 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.
Sanford-Brown College: With campuses in Houston, Iselin, and San Antonio, SBC is a convenient choice for prospective dialysis technicians living in Texas. The school’s dialysis certification program includes lectures as well as laboratory work and a clinical externship.
Baker College: While many dialysis tech programs culminate in only a certificate, the program at Baker College leads students to an Associate of Applied Science degree as Hemodialysis Patient Care Technicians. Students are required to take 60 hours of dialysis courses that include the fundamentals of dialysis as well as anatomy, phlebotomy, and clinical practicums. Because the program culminates in a degree, students must also complete general education requirements.
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 of Credit program. This program was specifically designed in conjunction with local dialysis centers in order to provide students that are experienced and knowledgeable enough to enter the workforce.
Platt College: Platt College has campuses in Los Angeles as well as Alhambra, both of which offer a 20 to 26 week Hemodialysis Technician Certificate program. This dialysis tech school consists of 120 hours of lecture and laboratory time as well as a 200 plus hour externship.
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 the are employed.
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 the work in the dialysis setting, which can certainly be an affordable solution for many prospective technicians.
List of Dialysis Technician Schools
|School||City||State||Website||Total grads (2013)|
|Blue Cliff College-Metairie||Metairie||Louisiana||http://www.bluecliffcollege.com||71|
|Star Career Academy-Philadelphia||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania||http://www.starcareer.edu/||69|
|Star Career Academy-Clifton||Clifton||New Jersey||http://www.starcareer.edu/||69|
|Sanford-Brown College-Houston North Loop||Houston||Texas||http://www.sanfordbrown.edu/north-loop||38|
|Star Career Academy-Newark||Newark||New Jersey||http://www.starcareer.edu/||33|
|Blue Cliff College-Lafayette||Lafayette||Louisiana||http://bluecliffcollege.com||32|
|Star Career Academy-New York||New York||New York||http://www.starcareer.edu/||31|
|Atlantic Technical Center||Coconut Creek||Florida||http://www.atlantictechcenter.com||27|
|Star Career Academy-Egg Harbor||Egg Harbor Township||New Jersey||http://www.starcareer.edu||26|
|Central Georgia Technical College||Warner Robins||Georgia||http://www.centralgatech.edu||24|
|Star Career Academy??rick||Brick||New Jersey||http://www.starcareer.edu/||23|
|Star Career Academy-Syosset||Syosset||New York||http://www.starcareer.edu/location/long-island-campus-syosset/||23|
|Dorsey Business Schools-Wayne||Wayne||Michigan||http://www.dorsey.edu||23|
|Progressive Training Centers||Pompano Beach||Florida||http://www.progressivetc.com||19|
|Chemeketa Community College||Salem||Oregon||http://www.chemeketa.edu||19|
|Sanford-Brown College-Tinley Park||Tinley Park||Illinois||http://www.sanfordbrown.edu/tinley-park||18|
|Star Career Academy-Audubon||Audubon||Pennsylvania||http://www.starcareer.edu/||16|
|Blue Cliff College-Gulfport||Gulfport||Mississippi||http://bluecliffcollege.com||16|
|City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College||Chicago||Illinois||http://www.ccc.edu/colleges/malcolm-x/pages/default.aspx||14|
|Baker College of Flint||Flint||Michigan||http://www.baker.edu||13|
|Chippewa Valley Technical College||Eau Claire||Wisconsin||http://www.cvtc.edu/home.aspx||11|
|Midwestern Career College||Chicago||Illinois||http://www.mccollege.edu||10|
|Miami Valley Career Technology Center||Clayton||Ohio||http://ae.mvctc.com||10|
|Baker College of Clinton Township||Clinton Township||Michigan||http://www.baker.edu||8|
|Southern University at Shreveport||Shreveport||Louisiana||http://www.susla.edu||7|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Milwaukee||Wisconsin||http://www.matc.edu/||6|
|Community College of Rhode Island||Warwick||Rhode Island||http://www.ccri.edu||6|
|Atlanta Technical College||Atlanta||Georgia||http://www.atlantatech.edu/||6|
|Southern Crescent Technical College||Griffin||Georgia||https://www.sctech.edu/||5|
|McDowell Technical Community College||Marion||North Carolina||http://www.mcdowelltech.edu||5|
|Somerset County Technology Center||Somerset||Pennsylvania||http://www.sctc.net/dnn/||4|
|City Colleges of Chicago-Harry S Truman College||Chicago||Illinois||http://ccc.edu/colleges/truman/pages/default.aspx||4|
|Blue Cliff College-Fayetteville||Fayetteville||Arkansas||http://bluecliffcollege.com||4|
|Wayne County Community College District||Detroit||Michigan||http://www.wcccd.edu||2|
|Sanford-Brown Institute-Cranston||Cranston||Rhode Island||http://www.sanfordbrown.edu/cranston||2|
|Winter Park Tech||Winter Park||Florida||http://www.ocpstechcenters.net/winterparktech/Pages/default.aspx||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:
San Diego State University: At SDSU, students can complete an entire 350 hour course as part of the school’s Dialysis Technician Online Professional Certificate Program. The program covers the specifics of operating a dialysis machine as well as other fundamental operational skills. There is no official practicum for this program. Rather, SDSU recommends that students seek out practical work experience, but does not offer placement or assistance. The course is designed to prepare students to sit for either the CCHT or the CHT exam.
Saginaw Valley State University: The online program at SVSU is flexible and can begin whenever a student enrolls. The program is open to students who have obtained, or are working towards a high school diploma or GED. There is no practicum component of this particular program.
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 degree. In 2011 and 2012, 75% of graduates from this particular program found employment in the field upon graduation.
|School||City||State||Website||Total grads (2013)|
|Lake Superior College||Duluth||Minnesota||http://www.lsc.edu||6|
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, these programs cover the basics of kidney function as well as the unfortunate 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 as accessing a vein in order to use the dialysis equipment is a necessary part of the job. Of course, as with working in 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 the accreditation for 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 of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. 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.
Dialysis programs may also have healthcare specific 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. Visit the CAAHEP website for more information on their accreditation process and to find accredited schools and programs.
A number of dialysis technician programs have been approved by BONENT. The programs may not necessarily meet the requirements of official accreditation since not all of them are being 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, be aware that any data from them may not be entirely accurate. The numbers from the BLS actually track all Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians as one group, which includes dialysis technicians, but also 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 30% expected through 2022 (BLS, 2012). 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. 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, Accounting Software, Email Software, Medical Software, Spreadsheet Software, Word Processing Software|
|Sourced from BLS, January 2015|
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 (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 6 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 states.