A dialysis technician is a licensed paraprofessional in the health care field who assists patients with kidney disorders, disease and renal failure through the use of an advanced form of machinery commonly referred to as a dialysis machine. While there are two methods of treatment for kidney or renal disorders, a certified dialysis technician who treats patients is called a hemodialysis technician. Hemodialysis technicians obtain certification through a nationally accredited examination. Peritoneal dialysis is another form of treatment for kidney disorder or failure; however, the patient self-administers daily treatment in the privacy of her home.
Hemodialysis Technician Duties
A team of health care professionals is responsible for the treatment, care and well-being of dialysis patients. This team consists of a nephrologist, a dialysis nurse, a hemodialysis technician and support personnel who work in areas of nutrition and diet control and occupational assistance such as therapists and social workers. A nephrologist is a physician who specializes in the area of kidney disease and renal failure.
National Certification Criteria
The Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT) is the certifying body for certified hemodialysis technicians (CHTs). Current patient care technicians seeking certification to specialize in kidney disorder and renal failure must fulfill the eligibility criteria before registering to sit for the exam. A patient care technician must possess a high school diploma, GED or equivalent education. Proof of the prospective CHT's education must be provided to BONENT. In addition, the technician must have at least one year of experience in patient care in a dialysis setting observing and assisting upper-level health care providers. Only currently employed patient care technicians are eligible to apply for the certification exam, and the applicant's paperwork must include letters of reference from his supervisor as well as another professional in the field of nephrology who is familiar with the examinee and supports his choice in wanting to pursue CHT designation.
CHT Examination Areas
The national examination is largely based on the aspiring CHT's ability to provide appropriate and a clinically proficient level of patient care. Patient care topics comprise 65 percent of the examination. The remaining topics of the national certification include knowledge of dialysis technology; use of water filtration and treatment for removal of patient waste and toxins; dialysis processes pursuant to medical standards and use within the dialysis setting; and professional protocol in the specialized field of nephrology. The professional protocol relates to how prospective CHTs interact and communicate with patients. There is an extensive list of more than two dozen sources of reading material as well as CHT study guides available to prospective CHTs. The materials are available through BONENT.
Registration, Fees and Grading
As of March 2011, the fee for taking the CHT examination is $200 for the handwritten test, and $225 for the computer-based examination. If the applicant doesn't pass on the first try, she can retake the examination within one year for $40 less than the first try. Attempting the certification examination for a later period of time after failing the first time increases to the original amount of fees for the first attempt. The three-hour examination contains 150 questions and the minimum score necessary for passing ranges from 70 to 75 percent. Official scoring is forwarded by BONENT to the examinee, usually within four to six weeks after the exam date. Certification is good for four years, and CHTs must complete continuing education for renewals or retake the examination to remain in good standing.