The Differences Between a Phlebotomist and a Dialysis Technician

The collection of blood from patients for examination in laboratories is typically considered a career specialization for medical professionals. Phlebotomy does not contain any uniquely delineated specializations within its own practice. While there are numerous techniques within phlebotomy, the majority of phlebotomists work part-time. Others combine phlebotomy as part of their overall role as a dialysis technician. Healthcare workers require a variety of skills and abilities to compete in today’s fast-changing job market. Now’s the best time to upgrade your skills and qualifications.


Job Description

Phlebotomist: Phlebotomists are responsible for drawing blood from patients. They make sure that blood draws go quickly and smoothly. In order to achieve effective this, large facilities, like hospitals, usually assign one person with considerable skill in taking blood from all patients rather than everyone taking some now and then. If no blood draws are required in a shift, phlebotomists may be involved in testing, cataloging, and storing the samples. There are different techniques within phlebotomy, such as venipuncture and fingerstick withdrawal. Venipuncture is the drawing of blood from veins, while fingerstick withdrawal is the drawing of blood by pricking the fingertips.

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. Their knowledge in the entire process of the dialysis treatment sets them apart from a phlebotomist.

Differences: A dialysis technician works under the direct supervision of the registered nurse, while a phlebotomist may be assigned to draw blood from specified patients in a floor. Because of the variety of needs for phlebotomy, professionals who have the skill to draw blood find work in all manner of medicine-related practices. With all areas that require the drawing of blood samples, phlebotomists can be active in nearly every other category of medical work. On the other hand, a dialysis technician basically provide direct care to patients who undergo dialysis. Since most kidney patients require regular treatments, dialysis technicians can be assigned to care for the same patient every time. The same can’t be said for phlebotomists, since their interpersonal relationship with the patient ends after blood has been drawn.

dialysis technician r

Work Environment

Phlebotomist: Where one decides to work as phlebotomist comes down to demand and preference. Typically, phlebotomists work in hospitals that have high demand for technicians. Private facilities, such as nursing homes, may offer a smaller range of employment. However, phlebotomists will have to expect less funds, space, and facilities when working in one. Clinics offer more flexible hours and the greater opportunity to boost experience. Blood donation drives, such as those organized by Red Cross, will also hire phlebotomists. Due to the flexibility of their working scope, phlebotomists can still travel while practicing.

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 phlebotomist. 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 equipement for the next shift.

Differences: Working as a phlebotomist 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. Both professionals are also taught an overview of anatomy. Dialysis technicians can be a trained phlebotomist at the same time. A dialysis technician can perform basic medical duties, unlike a phlebotomist. For instance, they can monitor circulation activity, care for the vascular access and perform basic laboratory work.



Phlebotomist: The options for certification and education in phlebotomy can be significantly varied. Phlebotomists can practice their craft in a variety of areas. Individual states, facilities, and practices all have contrasting standards as to what comprises sufficient training in order to work as a phlebotomist. Most institutions, however, will accept certification from one of the many organizations that offer phlebotomy examinations.

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.

Differences: Both occupations require specific trainings and certification. However, what sets dialysis technicians apart is their needed experience to become certified. While a phlebotomist can sit for a certification exam after completing a certain degree of training, a dialysis technician can’t. Dialysis technicians should take courses in basic sciences beforehand. Aside from that, one should also have a previous healthcare experience, such as being a certified nurse’s aide. Certification in nephrology technology is only made available to technicians who meet the necessary requirements to sit for the exam.


Job Security

Phlebotomist: The medical technician industry as a whole, which phlebotomy is part of, is currently on the rise. The demand for phlebotomists is expected to rise by at least 10 percent within the next 10 years. Influencing the growth for phlebotomy are the combined factors of improved medical testing, an aging population, and the optimized availability of medical services. For these reasons, it isn’t likely that there will be a shortage for phlebotomy positions anytime soon.

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. 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 increase. The job security for dialysis technicians is as high as it has ever been.


Should you go for a career change and become a dialysis technician?

Annually, a phlebotomist can expect to earn around $20,000 to $25,000. A dialysis technician, meanwhile, makes $35,000 to $37,000. A phlebotomist is limited to drawing blood. A dialysis technician can draw blood, as well as operate the machines that clean the blood of kidney patients. One of the skills needed to become a dialysis technician is good cannulation. Since phlebotomists are already experts in cannulation, they really won’t have any problems going for a career change. Just for the fact that phlebotomists see multiple patients in any given day, they already have experience dealing with different patient behaviors in different settings. Every time, phlebotomists calm patients down before the stick, they are already showing empathy and good communication.  Both of these traits are needed in order to become a good dialysis technician. Being a dialysis technician tends to be more emotionally rewarding since you’ll be able to see improvement in your patients overall well-being, as you continue caring for them. Dialysis technicians can expect to see their patients 3 times a week. Because of this, they’ll enjoy deeper and and more meaningful relationships with the people they are caring for. With the amount of time dialysis technicians spend with their patients, they’ll also be in better positions 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.

dialysis technician

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.