Top 5 Skills Every Dialysis Technician Should Have

As a dialysis nurse, I’ve worked with highly skilled dialysis technicians. In this field especially in the chronic dialysis setting (clinics), nurses work hand in hand with dialysis technicians to deliver quality care. The teamwork between them basically makes or breaks a clinic. A highly cohesive team works smoothly even through the hectic of patient changeovers, makes the day less stressful, and most importantly, keeps the patients safe. A broken team will always lead to mistakes, patients missing their scheduled put-ons, being disorganized and messy on the floor; basically making the environment high stressful and unsafe. With that being said, lets go over the skills required to be the best dialysis technician ever!

1. Competency – This is a VERY important skill. A dialysis technician is assigned a variety of tasks and one of which is the monitoring of patients all throughout their 3-4 hour treatment. Vital signs needs to be taken and recorded at the very minimum every 30 minutes (I personally ask my patients to be monitored every 15 minutes). The dialysis technician needs to be competent enough to know which vital signs are abnormal and reportable to the charge nurse. It could be something like blood pressure going from 160/90 then suddenly dropping to 100/80. (100/80 is still considered normal but that huge drop in blood pressure might indicate a complication and needs further assessment.) They should also be able to spot abnormal signs/symptoms or any change in the patient’s normal pattern of behavior (granted that we see the patients 3x/week, we do establish a normal state for the patient).

 2. Communication skills – An excellent dialysis technician is always someone that is approachable and easy to talk to. As most patient interactions happens during the putting on of patients on the machine, if a patient is comfortable with the dialysis technician, they’ll be able to tell them if they feel different during that day or if something significant has happened to them recently. With that information coupled with the dialysis nurse’s assessment, we can promptly intervene before it gets worse. Also a dialysis technician that has good communication skills will be able to work better with their nurse counterparts.

3. Time management  – a dialysis technician is given a very hard patient schedule to follow. Most patient schedules only allows 30 minutes in between patients per chair. So that involves taking off the patient, setting up and testing the machine, cleaning the dialysis chair, setting up the computer for the next patient.  Within that 30 minutes, another patient will be coming off (as putting on patients are 15 minutes apart), so that involves taking off the patient and then setting up everything again for the next patient. This happens non-stop until all the patients are on for that shift.

4. Team player – a dialysis technician must always be willing to contribute to lessening the overall workload. If another dialysis technician is backed up with tasks, another should step up and help them. Getting backed up with tasks is almost a certainty on a normal work day so knowing that someone is always there to help you out will definitely give you relief.  The back and forth of helping each other out then turns into habit which then makes the whole process go a lot smoother. Like they said, there is no “I” in team. Team > Individual.

5. Fun – I can never repeat this enough: Let’s all make the job fun! I’ve been in several dialysis clinics wherein even the most hectic changeover seemed like nothing because everyone was just smiling and laughing. Without sacrificing quality of care, having fun while working definitely keeps the mood light and just makes everything go a lot smoother.

So these are the top 5 skills that I believe are the most important to have to be able to be the BEST dialysis technician ever! If you have any more suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave  a comment below. Thanks!