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Dialysis Assistant: Job Description & Requirements

Dialysis is a medical procedure that helps patients with reduced or impaired kidney function eliminate toxic waste and excessive fluids from their bodies. A dialysis assistant operates a dialysis machine that is responsible for providing hemodialysis and treating drug overdoses. These assistants design protocols and instruct patients in the principles and practices of dialysis. Read further to learn more details about this profession.

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Career Definition

A dialysis assistant, or a dialysis technician, is responsible for operating dialysis machines, which are designed to filter waste, excess water, and salt from a person's body. These elements in the blood cause kidneys to fail or become damaged. Dialysis assistants help patients before, during, and after dialysis treatments.

How to Become a Dialysis Assistant

Education Required for a Dialysis Assistant

According to the National Kidney Foundation, www.kidney.org, a dialysis assistant must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Training programs can be found at community colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals, and these programs can last anywhere from 12 weeks to one year. Within these programs, you gain training in dialysis machine operation, drug overdose, hemodialysis, and plasmaphoresis. Dialysis assistants must also become nationally certified, and they need to keep up-to-date with the latest procedures and technology.

Skills Required

A career in this field requires clinical skills, the ability to monitor a patient's vital signs, and keeping an eye out for complications. It is also essential to be CPR-certified and prepared to handle any emergency situations. Many patients who receive dialysis treatments do so for chronic disorders, and dialysis assistants must have excellent people skills in order to build up a rapport with patients they may see on a daily or weekly basis. Interpersonal skills are also needed to work effectively with doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.

Economic and Career Outlook

Dialysis assistants can find employment in hospitals, home dialysis programs, or out-patient facilities. According to Salary.com, the median income for a renal dialysis technician was about $35,600 per year as of Febuary 2014. Most positions offer health benefits, vacation, and sick leave, which should be factored into the rate of compensation.

Alternate Career Options

Medical Assistant

Some medical assistants earn certificates through postsecondary programs, while others learn their skills for completing clinical and administrative tasks in doctors' offices through on-the-job training. Much faster than average job growth of 29% was forecast by the BLS for these assistants from 2012-2022. In May 2012, a median annual salary of $29,370 was reported by the BLS.

Nursing Assistant

These assistants complete postsecondary programs and pass state exams in order to secure employment providing basic care to patients in nursing facilities and hospitals. They earned an annual median wage of $24,400 in 2012, per the BLS. A faster than average increase in jobs was predicted by the BLS through 2022, with 21% growth expected.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics