The third week of October each year is National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week. Let’s learn more about the types of dialysis technicians, how they are educated to help you and how you can celebrate this week with YOUR dialysis technician.
There are two types of technicians in your dialysis clinic: the Biomedical Nephrology Technologist (BNT) is the individual responsible for maintaining the equipment used during your dialysis treatment. A well-functioning dialysis machine is a key component of a successful dialysis treatment. BNTs 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 Clinical Nephrology Technician (CNT) is the individual who stands watch over your treatment to ensure it stays on track. Your CNT knows how to set the dialysis machine to meet the prescription your nephrologist has provided, mix the dialysate and ensure the water has been properly treated. The CNT is constantly monitoring treatments, recording your health information every 30 minutes and double and triple checking the safety measures during your treatment. If there is a concern, the CNT will notify a nurse to further assess the treatment. Even if you fall asleep during dialysis, your CNT 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 CNT means that s/he learns what best works for your care. That means anomalies in your treatment can be spotted easily. Your CNT can see changes that indicate you need further assistance from other members of your health care team – and can make sure you get that assistance.
Your CNT knows that compassion is often the best medicine. Kidney disease is a chronic battle that touches many aspects of your life. Your CNT has seen the worst aspects of kidney disease and how it can impact a patient physically, emotionally and psychologically. Your CNT knows how to listen, understand and validate your concerns – all designed to help you have a better treatment.
Some dialysis technicians and technologists know first hand what you, the dialysis patient, is going through – because they were on dialysis themselves. Due in no small part to the care they got from their dialysis technicians, they chose to undertake the training to become a technician – and other have gone for more education to become a dialysis nurse.
Since 2012, CNTs are federally mandated to earn a nationally recognized dialysis technician certification. Your CNT may have one of the following set of initials after their name: CHT, CCHT, CNCT, CCHT-A are some of the more common certification designations. To earn the certification, a CNT must have a certain number of hours in training and successfully complete a comprehensive multiple choice question exam. Every three years, your CNT must be re-certified every 3 or 4 years by completing at least 30 hours of continuing education directly related to dialysis technology. Technicians who do not recertify are no longer allowed to work in a dialysis unit. There are other certifications for CBTs that focus on water treatment or machine knowledge. So, when you see some letters after your technician’s name, ask them what they mean and tell them you are proud of them for their hard work on your behalf.
Many CNTs and BNTs are members of the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/ Technologists (NANT). This organization, founded in 1983, provides many programs and services that help technicians:
- Prepare for their certification exam with books written specifically for CNTs
- Earn contact hours required to renew their certification every three years
- Keep up to date on the latest technology advances through the NANT Solutions Center, part of their annual educational event
- Scholarships that cover registration and hotel rooms so they can attend the annual educational event
- Chapters to help them build collegial relationships with other technicians in their area while earning contact hours for certification renewal
- Water Treatment for Dialysis – the definitive book on water treatment systems that are vital to successful dialysis
- Identify their career path so that they can continue to professionally grow
NANT sponsors the National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week. It is a great time for you, the dialysis patient, to say “Thank you” to the technicians in your dialysis unit. Here are some ideas of how you can show your gratitude:
- Find out about which certification they hold – they worked hard for it!
- 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 to join – just go to DialysisTech.NET to learn more about it
- Give them a shout-out on Twitter. Use one of these hashtags: #LoveMyNCTWeek / #LoveMyNBTWeek / #LoveMyDialysisTechWeek – let everyone know how happy you are that they help you keep healthy
- Say thank you!
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 YOUR healthcare team.
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