Dialysis careers are typically available at hospitals and private outpatient clinics. Dialysis workers in hospitals tend to work with very sick patients who might need around-the-clock care in addition to their dialysis. Workers in the private outpatient clinics are usually working with patients who are using dialysis as a maintenance procedure over the long haul.
A third option growing in popularity is to be a dialysis nurse working with patients who are learning to perform their own procedures at home. These nurses train patients in the hemodialysis process and then monitor them going forward. Dialysis careers in all three settings are wide open right now, as are most careers in the medical field.
Becoming a Dialysis Technician
One of the nice things about dialysis is that healthcare professionals can get their start as technicians with just a high school diploma. That's all you need to begin earning your dialysis technician certification at a local community college, vocational school, nursing school or hospital training course. It helps to have a strong background in high school math and science, but it's not absolutely necessary. As long as you can complete the necessary coursework, you can earn your certification pretty quickly.
Part of the certification process is hands-on training under the supervision of a registered nurse. If you can't find a program offered by a local hospital or outpatient clinic, you might benefit through a direct-hire program that gives you on-the-job training. Under such a program you might take your classroom training through a local community college or a hospital class, then finish your hands-on training as an employee of that hospital or clinic.
Becoming a Dialysis Nurse
In most cases, a hospital dialysis unit is staffed by registered nurses (RNs) who have earned a college degree. If you want to be a dialysis nurse, plan on a minimum four-year bachelor degree program and passing a state licensing exam. As a registered nurse, you will most likely oversee a team of dialysis technicians and other nurses who work in your department or clinic.
For the right person, a dialysis career is a great choice. But it's a unique kind of medical care that requires a special bedside manner and the ability to work with patients for extremely long periods of time. If this is something that interests you, you might want to talk to other dialysis workers and pick their brains. They are an invaluable source of information and advice when making your career choice.