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Dialysis Technicians – an essential part of your healthcare team

By Kevin M. Burns, Sr., CHBT, CHT, FNKF, President, National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT)

If you are a CKD patient who has spent any time on in-center hemodialysis, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten to know your dialysis technician as the individual who spends a great deal of time with you before, during, and after each treatment.

In partnership with the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT), AAKP is celebrating National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week October 10–15, 2022. Now is a great time to learn more about the types of dialysis technicians, how they are educated to help you throughout your treatments, and how you can help celebrate this week with YOUR dialysis technician.

There are two types of technicians in a dialysis clinic. The Nephrology Biomedical Technologist (NBT) is responsible for maintaining the equipment used during dialysis treatments. A well-functioning dialysis machine is a key component of a successful dialysis treatment. NBTs have specific training on the hemodialysis machines and water treatment, and often have national certification that validates their grasp of a specific body of knowledge and best practices.

The Nephrology Clinical Technician (NCT) is responsible for treatments to ensure things stay on track. An NCT knows how to set the dialysis machine to meet the prescription a nephrologist has provided, mix the dialysate, and ensure the water has been properly treated. The NCT is constantly monitoring treatments, recording a patient’s health information every 30 minutes, and ensuring safety measures are met during treatments. If there is a concern, the NCT will notify a nurse to further assess the treatment. Even if a patient falls asleep during dialysis, the NCT remains on full alert.

Most dialysis patients receive treatments at least three times a week for at least four hours a day. Working with the same NCT means they learn what works best for the patient's care. That means anomalies in a patient’s treatment can be spotted easily. The NCT can see changes that indicate the need for further assistance from other members of a patient’s healthcare team and ensure every patient gets the assistance they need.

An NCT knows that compassion is often the best medicine. Kidney disease is a chronic battle that touches many aspects of someone’s life. The NCT has seen the worst aspects of kidney disease and how it can impact a patient physically, emotionally, and psychologically. An NCT knows how to listen, understand, and validate their patient’s concerns—all designed to help every patient have a better treatment.

Since 2012, NCTs are federally mandated to earn a nationally-recognized dialysis technician certification. An NCT may have a set of initials following their name such as CHT, CCHT, CNCT, or CCHT-A. To earn the certification, an NCT must have a certain number of hours in training and successfully complete a comprehensive multiple choice question exam. Every three to four years, NCTs must be re-certified by completing at least ten hours of continuing education annually that is directly related to dialysis technology. Technicians who do not recertify are no longer allowed to work in a dialysis unit.

National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week is a great time for dialysis patients to say thank you to the technicians in their dialysis unit. Here are some simple ways to show your support:

  • Find out which certification they hold—they worked hard for it!
  • Go to https://bit.ly/dialysistechwk22 to complete a certificate from you to your dialysis technician. Simply type in their name and print, or print it first, write their name, and sign yours.  Then, give this certificate to your technician(s) during National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week, October 10-15, 2022.
  • Ask if they are a member of the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT)— some technicians don’t yet know about how NANT can help them. It’s easy for them to join— just visit www.DialysisTech.NET to learn more. NANT's basic membership is available at no charge.
  • Give them a shout-out on Facebook or Twitter using one of these hashtags: #LoveMyCNTWeek / #LoveMyBNTWeek / #LoveMyDialysisTechWeek. Let everyone know how happy you are that they partner with you to help you keep healthy.
Let's Celebrate National Dialysis Technicians Recognition Week. Scan this QR code for more info.

Want to know more? Check out www.DialysisTech.NET to see all that NANT offers dialysis technicians. NANT supports all dialysis technicians as a vital part of a dialysis patient’s healthcare team.

Kevin M. Burns, Sr., CHBT, CHT, FNKF, is the Area Technical Operation Manager, Houston Region, Gulf Coast Group for Fresenius Kidney Care. Kevin has served on the NANT Board of Directors since 2011, serving as Southwest Regional Vice President, Legislative Affairs Director, member of the Executive Committee, and is NANT president, 2022-2023. Kevin is committed to the education and professional acceptance of nephrology clinical technicians and biomedical technologists.