Can a Dialysis Technologist Training Program change your life?

Maria Lupascu, Dialysis Program Director
If you are considering dialysis technician as a career, you’re probably shopping around to find the right school to get you where you want to be. There’s a lot to consider, from programs to clinicals to certification. We recently asked Maria Lupascu, CHT, the program director for Midwestern Career College’s dialysis technologist training program, what people should take into account when researching dialysis schools.

Each year at MCC, Maria welcomes new students into the field by providing them with a thorough educational foundation and initial clinical experience as a dialysis technician.

Beyond her role at MCC, Maria is also the Illinois regional representative for the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing Technology (BONENT), the premier global organization for the certification of dialysis technicians.

If you are considering dialysis technician as a career, here is Maria’s advice:

Why should students be interested in dialysis training?

Maria Lupascu, CHT: The healthcare industry is seeing a dramatic growth with employment of medical laboratory technicians projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is largely due to the aging baby boomer population who will be faced with new medical concerns as they grow older.

In terms of kidney-related disease, 29 million Americans suffer from diabetes and more than 20 million suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Unfortunately, these numbers are projected to grow higher, and hemodialysis technicians will be in demand to help serve their needs for treatment.

With figures like these, it’s easy to understand why dialysis technicians will be in greater and greater demand all over the country, in both full-time and part-time positions. Employers for healthcare jobs usually offer great benefits to their employees, sometimes including tuition reimbursement. The healthcare industry is a great career choice for people with customer service skills and a desire to learn.

Is dialysis a good place to start for someone wanting to get into the healthcare field?

Maria Lupascu, CHT: Choosing to build a career in the medical field by first starting as a dialysis technician is a smart move. It will give you the knowledge and tools that may help you later move up to higher salary positions with more responsibility.

There are many opportunities for people who don’t want to go to school for a long time and just want to get started. One of the best ways you can start your medical career is by getting certified as a dialysis technician. For example, MCC’s program is just 10 months long.

Many renal dialysis technicians go back to school and become registered nurses (RNs). Working with agencies as a travel dialysis technician or on a cruise ship are a couple of the exciting and interesting opportunities open to a certified dialysis technician.

If you are a caring, sympathetic person who is interested in the medical field and wants a rewarding, stable job, then you could be the perfect dialysis technician. Dialysis technicians function in multiple roles, which include dialyzer reprocessing, water treatment monitoring, participation in quality improvement, vascular access monitoring, and direct patient care.

What makes Midwestern a great school for dialysis technicians?

Maria Lupascu, CHT: Our training program teaches you about the field and helps prepare you for dialysis certification. The theory portion of the program provides you with the knowledge in medical terminology that you will need to be able to read patients’ charts. You will also study the anatomy and physiology of the kidneys, the causes of kidney failure, and aspects of renal diet and transplantation.

The program goes beyond the classroom to include hands-on practice starting with the machine set up, as well as different types of vascular access and cannulation techniques. This knowledge will help you educate and communicate with your patients.

Beyond this, we offer this program at our three campus locations in downtown Chicago, Blue Island and Naperville. Our program lasts 40 weeks and includes a 220-hour externship. We offer multiple start dates each year.

Why is it important that dialysis professionals be BONENT-certified?

BONENT is the world’s leading organization for certification of nephrology nurses, technologists and technicians. The organization conducts certification exams throughout the United States and as far away as Singapore, Australia and Turkey.

Midwestern Career College is fortunate to be one of only three dialysis technologist training programs in the state of Illinois that is BONENT-approved. Prospective students should take this into consideration when reviewing schools, because employers look for job applicants who are BONENT certified.

Once students graduate from MCC’s program and complete the externship, then they are eligible to sit for BONENT’s Certified Hemodialysis Technician (CHT) exam. Once they pass this exam, they join the elite ranks of seven thousand nurses and technicians. Members must recertify every four years.

Midwestern College Career is also a BONENT-certified testing center. We schedule several CHT exams each year.

What is the value of hands-on experience and clinicals?

Maria Lupascu, CHT: Students who go through a training program with hands-on experience will be more employable than those who have not.

At MCC, students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to the real world during a 220-hour externship, which are sometimes called clinicals. Midwestern Career College is affiliated with one of the largest dialysis companies in the country, DaVita, as well as with numerous hospitals in the Chicagoland area, where they will be able to complete their externship.

MCC dialysis students are also given an opportunity for CPR certification, and can take CNA classes free of charge.

Can a dialysis program change your life?

Maria Lupascu, CHT: Definitely. In terms of career, some of our graduates have been hired by DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, two major providers of dialysis treatment. Others found jobs while they were still attending classes, allowing them to complete their externship hours while working as dialysis technicians.

I remember a student who was hired by Fresenius. She passed her BONENT exam and moved out of state. After working in a chronic dialysis unit for one year, she started working as a travel dialysis technician. I received a phone call from her a few months ago to thank me for everything I had done for her. She said that becoming a dialysis technician changed her life.

MCC has a new Dialysis Occupational Advisory Committee. What impact will these meetings have?

Maria Lupascu, CHT: The last meeting analyzed the dialysis program and its curriculum. Members of the Occupational Advisory Committee are medical professionals with vast experience in the dialysis field. The president of BONENT, RJ Picciano, is member of our advisory committee, as well as the dialysis director from the Mt. Sinai Hospital. We are working on expanding our relationship with these entities and finding more dialysis externship opportunities for our students, including at Cook County Hospital and Concerto Renal Services. We believe that this occupational advisory committee will help keep MCC on the cutting edge of dialysis tech education.

Interested in learning more about MCC’s dialysis technologist training program? We’d be happy to talk to you about our program and whether MCC is the right fit for you.