Renal failure has become a common medical condition in the United States due to chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. The prevalence of these conditions has led to an increase in the number of dialysis treatment facilities and has caused many employers to start hiring more technicians to help carry out a variety of tasks associated with patient care. Those considering this profession are encouraged to review the dialysis technician job description to ensure that the choice is a good fit for their career objectives.
The Role of the Technician
A dialysis technician is a unique type of patient care specialist who works under the supervision of a nurse and who serves in a supportive capacity. Although a technician cannot accept responsibility for activities that require advanced nursing judgment or skill, they are able to perform tasks that are considered routine, have a predictable outcome, and pose little threat of harm to patients. While many of the jobs that are included in the dialysis technician job description are clinical in nature, many facilities also require supportive staff to help with maintenance and administrative tasks. An example of core responsibilities includes setup and operation of treatment machines, maintaining a clean work setting, communicating with other members of the medical team, providing emotional support to patients, scheduling patients for treatments, and participating in weekly staff meetings.
Detailed Components of the Dialysis Technician Job Description
The responsibilities that a technician has often vary between facilities, but there are components of providing care that individuals should expect to encounter when they accept a position in a dialysis facility. The following is a list of common clinical and administrative responsibilities…
- Provide patient centered education
- Greet patients and record changes in condition
- Report patient complaints and concerns
- Monitor vascular access points for patency
- Record vital signs and weight before and after treatment
- Perform vascular access cannulation
- Administer heparin according to state law
- Initiate treatment
- Evaluate problems during treatment
- Provide intervention when problems arise
- Monitor patients for unusual reactions to treatment
- Perform discontinuation protocols
- Apply dressings following treatment
- Ensure safety alarms are working
- Document the patient encounter
- Obtain laboratory testing and specimen collection
- Ensure safety and cleanliness
- Disinfect equipment and work areas
- Maintain supplies and equipment
- Operate clinical documentation programs
- Participate in quality improvement initiatives
- Compile paperwork and review for completeness
- Create lab requisitions
- Promote high quality customer service
- Help resolve customer complaints and concerns
This list includes many of the common tasks outlined in the standard dialysis technician job description, but omits some tasks that may be unique to certain facilities subject to varying state regulations. Kidney failure is a complicated medical condition that requires ongoing medical care to help ensure positive outcomes for the patients. One of the most important components of being a technician is the coordination of the efforts of medical professionals along with ensuring regular treatments for patients.
Effective care is dependent on the collaborative efforts of the different members of the medical team including physicians, nurses, technicians, dietitians, social workers, and those who provide psychological and emotional support. Although facilities often designate individuals who are supposed to assume specific responsibilities, technicians commonly find themselves performing aspects of other member’s responsibilities. This occurs because technicians spend more time with patients than any other member of the team and are trained to carry out different tasks depending on the needs of patients and the facility.
Technician Competency Requirements
In order to provide high quality and comprehensive care to patients, it is important for individuals to complete the education and skill requirements necessary to successfully perform the tasks outlined in the dialysis technician job description. While most states do not have licensing requirements for technicians, the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) requires technicians to complete an approved training program and successfully pass a certification exam in order for treatment facilities to receive reimbursement for the services they provide. A few of the states have their own guidelines that must be met in addition to the laws adopted by the federal government. In most cases, employers will cover the details of local regulations during the interview and orientation process. Those applicants who are hired will often be guided through the process of complying with state and federal regulations as they progress through the training and certification program.
The rapidly changing healthcare environment has resulted in many new quality of care initiatives that are designed to improve efficiency in the medical system, reduce costs, and enhance outcomes. Many facilities that offer dialysis treatment in the US have embraced these initiatives and have adopted policies and procedures that are meant to reflect their commitment to performance improvement. Those who intend to pursue this career path can expect to encounter policies that emphasize staff credentialing and competency, a safe work environment, infection control, water quality, risk management, and patient satisfaction. To ensure that the highest standards are being maintained, employers will routinely verify staff credentials and competency, perform internal audits, participate in regulatory reviews, and engage in regular reporting. Facilities may include aspects of these activities in the dialysis technician job description and may require individuals to actively collaborate in their design and implementation.
Successful Entry Into the Profession
Individuals who are considering a rewarding career as a technician can take a few steps to ensure their success. First, applicants with a high school diploma or GED are always given preference. Second, some prior patient care experience is preferred. Finally, those who have been offered a job will be required to complete a training program and pass a state or national certification examination. The certification exam must be passed within 18 months of being hired in order to comply with federal regulations.
- Federal Certification Requirements
- Dialysis Technician School