There are no official laws in the state of Pennsylvania that affect dialysis technician training and certification requirements. The Department of Health and the state Board of Nursing would normally be responsible for establishing and enforcing requirements, but many states have opted to allow the federal government to establish legal standards for dialysis technicians. States elect to take this route because the government covers most of the costs associated with treatment.
In the past, dialysis facilities billed patients directly for the treatment they received. Since dialysis is designed to treat a chronic illness, it can become extremely expensive over time. Many dialysis patients discovered that they did not have the means to pay for treatment especially given the fact that their ability to work was often interrupted by the need to make multiple trips to a dialysis clinic each week. Hospitals initially created dialysis boards that were tasked with the job of determining which patients would benefit from treatment and which ones would be allowed to die. The inhumanity in this approach ultimately led to the takeover of reimbursement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Today, the CMS covers approximately 80% of the costs associated with dialysis and they set the standards for dialysis technician training and certification requirements. States may adopt their own technician regulations or defer that responsibility to the federal government. Since Pennsylvania has not adopted state legislation, technicians in the state need only worry about complying with federal regulations.
CMS regulations 494.140 (e)(1-4) mandate that technicians…
- Meet all applicable state requirements for:
- Standards of practice
- Have a High School Diploma or equivalency
- Complete an approved training program that includes the following subjects:
- Principles of dialysis
- Care of patients with kidney failure
- Possible complications of dialysis
- Water treatment and dialysate preparation
- Infection control
- Dialyzer reprocessing
- Certification by a State or National Program within 18 months of employment
Aspiring technicians will discover that most dialysis facilities in the United States have developed their own curriculum for technician training. In general, training protocols must include very specific information as determined by state and federal agencies. Technicians commonly receive between 30 and 90 days of classroom instruction combined with clinic experience. This period of time is meant to provide technicians with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their jobs and pass either a state or national certification exam. In most cases, technicians will work for a period of 6 to 18 months prior to sitting for a certification exam.
Widely recognized national certification organizations include:
- The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC)
- Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) Exam
- The Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT)
- Certified Hemodialysis Technician (CHT) Exam
- The National Nephrology Certification Organization, Inc. (NNCO)
Each state is a member of a non-profit renal network that has jurisdiction over one to six states. There are a total of eighteen networks that were established by Congress in 1978. The role of the networks is to ensure high quality treatment in facilities throughout the US. Each network is responsible for gathering data, creating statistical reports, promoting rehabilitation, and acting as a resource for patients and clinic personnel. Pennsylvania is part of Network 4 along with Delaware.
Pennsylvania Dialysis Technician Training and Career Links
- American Renal Associates
- Choice Home Dialysis
- Dialysis Clinic, Inc.
- Dreiling Medical Management
- Einstein Healthcare Network
- Fresenius Medical Care
- Geisinger Health System
- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
- Prodigy Dialysis
- Renal Ventures Management
- Robert Packer Hospital
- St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
- St. Luke’s Hospital
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
- The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
- UPMC Health System
- US Renal Care
- WellSpan Dialysis