The healthcare industry is steadily expanding. Choosing an occupation in this field provides individuals with enough opportunities to find secure employment in a variety of settings. Two of the most popular career choices in this industry include becoming a certified nursing assistant and a dialysis technician. While they share some striking similarities when it comes to job duties, work environment and working hours, these careers are very different. Like certified nursing assistants, a dialysis technician provides basic care to patients.
Certified Nursing Assistant: A CNA is typically assigned a number of patients and is responsible for obtaining vital signs on those patients, responding to call bells, helping patients use the toilet and dress, and transferring patients between beds and wheelchairs. Aside from those, CNAs also listen to the patient’s health concerns and report that information to nurses. However, the kind of work a CNA does will depend on where he works. In nursing homes, assistants are usually the principal caregivers. They have more interaction with residents than any other members of the staff. Since the majority of residents stay in a nursing home for years, CNAs may develop close bonds with their patients.
Dialysis Technician: A dialysis technician functions in different roles. On the technical side, one can reprocess dialyzers, maintain or repair equipment, and monitor water treatment. Dialysis technicians are important members of the healthcare team since they are also involved in access monitoring and direct patient care. They are the primary direct care giver for patients undergoing dialysis treatments. Although they learn most of their skills through on the job training, a dialysis technician is taught the scientific principles of dialysis even before they step foot in a treatment facility.
Similarities: They both work closely with, and under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. While both professionals work with different equipment for providing care, a CNA and a dialysis technician enjoy a closer personal relationship with their patients. They are both responsible for responding to the physical and emotional needs of their patients. Although dialysis technicians learn about the working principles of dialysis during training, both professions similarly need classes in anatomy so they have basic overviews of the normal structure, parts, and functioning of the people they’ll be caring for.
Certified Nursing Assistant: The majority of certified nursing assistants work in nursing and residential care facilities. The work they do can be very strenuous. Since they take care of many patients or residents in a shift, they spend much of their time on their feet. Certified nursing assistants wear uniforms to protect their clothing and to promote cleanliness. The majority of CNAs work full time, in 8-hour shifts. Since nursing homes and hospitals provide care 24 hours a day, nursing assistant may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
Dialysis Technician: Technicians can work in an in-patient dialysis facility. However, when home treatment is possible, they can also be employed by families to personally care for a member who needs to undergo regular dialysis. The certified dialysis technician is primarily responsible for performing the actual dialysis treatment. In comparison, the nurse is in charge for the overall care of the patient. Dialysis facilities are very busy places. That’s why technicians generally work longer hours than a certified nursing assistant. These long hours are often necessary since a unit will normally have 3 shifts of patients. This means that each shift consists of patients receiving 3-4 hour treatments. After each shift, a dialysis technician cleans the machine and prepares the needed components for the next shift.
Similarities: Both occupations require a lot of patience. Working as a certified nursing assistant or a dialysis technician would require a lot of time management. While passing a certification exam can jumpstart your career in either field, dialysis technicians enjoy a wider scope of responsibilities. Dialysis technicians perform many of the same duties as certified nursing assistants. However, a dialysis technician can perform basic medical duties, unlike a nursing assistant. For instance, they can draw blood, monitor circulation activity and perform basic laboratory work.
Certified Nursing Assistant: Those aspiring to become a nursing assistant must complete a training program, provided by a community, technical or vocational college. In some cases, healthcare employers may also offer training programs. The length of the course significantly differs by state and provider. However, each course provides in-depth theoretical and practical instruction of providing basic care to patients. Anyone can train to become a nursing assistant as long as he has a high school diploma or equivalency. Lastly, CNA aspirants should pass an exam at the end of the training program to earn a certificate. This certificate must be renewed every two years.
Dialysis Technician: Aspiring dialysis technicians may either complete employer-sponsored training programs, or vocational schools/community college programs. One may also train on the job. However, the successful achievement of certification within 18 months of hire is necessary. Anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalency can train to become a dialysis technician.
Similarities: Both occupations follow a similar route when it comes to trainings and certification. However, what sets dialysis technicians apart is their needed experience to become certified. While a certified nursing assistant can sit for the certification exam after completing a certain degree of training, a dialysis technician can’t. Dialysis technicians should still gain experience for 12 months from working on site. Certification in nephrology technology is only made available to technicians who meet the necessary requirements to sit for the exam.
Certified Nursing Assistant: Employment of certified nursing assistants is projected to grow approximately 21 percent from 2014 to 2024. Compared to the average for all occupations, the projected growth of nursing assistance is due to the country’s aging population. As the baby-boom population grows older, a lot of nursing assistants will be needed to care for elderly patients in long-term care facilities. Aside from that, the ever-growing rates of numerous chronic conditions and of dementia will lead to growing demands for patient care.
Dialysis Technician: Last year alone, 871,000 people were being treated for End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Half of these cases are patients who require weekly treatments to survive. As striking as the figures already look, that population will still grow about 3 percent a year due to the rise in diabetes, a condition that can damage the kidneys. The poor eating habits of most Americans fuel this growth. As the number of ESRD patients rise, the need for more dialysis clinics will also rise. As more dialysis clinics open, the demand for more dialysis technicians will be inevitable. The job security for dialysis technicians is as high as it has ever been.
Similarities: Both occupations have secure employment outlooks because of different reasons. The demand for dialysis technicians continues to grow, as more clinics open. The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for CNAs. Because of the emotional and physical demands of being a certified nursing assistant, many people choose to leave the profession to get more training or another less-laborious job. This creates that unsteady demand for jobseekers. Even though vacancies for CNAs will always be there, not a lot will work as one in the long run. In terms of job security, that of a dialysis technician will constantly be higher.
Should you make a career change and become a dialysis technician?
A CNA makes between $25,000-$28,000 a year. A dialysis technician, meanwhile, earns $35,000-$37,000. A certified nursing assistant assists patients walk, bathe, dress, eat and aids in the bathroom with diapers and enemas. A dialysis technician operates the machines that clean the blood of kidney patients. Just for the fact that certified nursing assistants care for multiple patients in any given day, they already have experience dealing with different patient behaviors. Every time CNAs calm distraught patients down, they are already showing empathy and good communication. Both of these traits are needed in order to become a good dialysis technician. Dialysis technicians can expect to see their patients 3 times a week, while CNAs take care of the same in-house patients for months. Being a dialysis technician tends to be as emotionally rewarding as being a CNA since you’ll be able to see the improvements in your patients overall well-being, as you continue caring for them. Because of this, both professionals will enjoy deeper and and more meaningful relationships with the people they are caring for. With the amount of time dialysis technicians need to spend with their patients, experienced CNAs will not have a problem transitioning into this career. You’ll also be in a better position to teach and educate them. If you want to have a stable occupation that’s equally favorable for you and your patients, be a dialysis technician.
How do I become a dialysis technician?
In order to be admitted to hospital, community college and technical school dialysis technician training programs, you will need prior training in medical procedures. In some programs, phlebotomy is enough. Basic life support or CPR certification is also a prerequisite for some programs as well as by employers who offer additional on-the-job training. Some states require all applicants to complete one year of patient care prior to the administration of the examination. Once a dialysis technician has completed an accredited training program and gained 12 months of continuous experience, he is eligible to sit the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT) certification exam. Aspirants must score at least 70 to pass this 150-item examination. It’s important to familiarize yourself with any state licensure requirements for the state in which you intend to be certified.