If you or a loved one has ever been through dialysis, you’ll know that there are a lot of moving parts that require cooperation to make the whole process run smoothly. Dialysis equipment provides essential care to patients who need to receive treatment for failing kidneys. It helps to keep a person’s body in balance as a substitute for properly functioning kidneys, sometimes while waiting for an available transplant. What many people don’t know is that a large percentage of the workload in these facilities falls into the hands of patient care technicians! Patient care technicians often referred to simply as PCTs, are often the ones who have the most face time with dialysis patients, so let’s take a look into what that is like for them.
What is Dialysis?
Dialysis is most often used to help those who have little remaining kidney function. Mostly, dialysis patients have chronic kidney disease. Usually, when someone has about 10-15% of their kidney function left, that is when dialysis is implemented. The process of dialysis filters the blood to balance nutrients and elements to mimic what a normal functioning kidney does. Many patients use dialysis to extend their years or they might do it to buy themselves some more time if they’re waiting on a transplant list, which can often be a long and tedious process. There are two main types of dialysis, hemodialysis, and peritoneal dialysis. More often than not, PCTs are assisting with hemodialysis because it requires more complex machinery.
The Role of a PCT
While a doctor or nurse might do a lot of the decision making when it comes to care, a PCT will be doing much of the execution. Patient care technicians are directly overseen by registered nurses and doctors while they help to prep and carry out the dialysis process. While the exact duties will vary spending on the needs of each unique patient, there are a few duties that are especially common for this realm of work.
- Preparing the fluid
- Calibrating the equipment
- Sanitizing all of the instruments
- Prepping the patient for needle insertion
- Inserting needles and ports
- Injecting anticoagulants
- Monitoring the flow of treatment
One other thing that PCTs may do is outside of the realm of normal medical work, and usually involves home visits. Many dialysis patients perform the treatment on themselves in their own homes. Patient care techs can train them on how to do this for themselves in order to improve their patients’ quality of life while undergoing this treatment.
Work Environments for Dialysis PCTs
This field of work contains endless possibilities. You can work in a wide range of environments.
- Hospitals: One of the most common places to perform this position is in a hospital, as hospitals often have a small wing or section devoted to kidney treatment.
- Dialysis Facilities: It is also common for dialysis to be performed in specialized facilities meant specifically for this purpose.
- Nursing Homes: Nursing homes might also offer it in more isolated circumstances.
- Home Care: As stated earlier, dialysis is sometimes performed within the patients’ home, but they will need proper training, potentially from a PCT, to do so.
Opportunities for PCTs
This is one of the most common paths for PCTs, as it is one of the routes that carry the most responsibility and impact. Dialysis is a great opportunity for anyone who is eager to get more face time with their patients, as the job is immensely hands-on and interactive. Patient Care Technicians have to be extremely personable, competent, and professional in order to properly fulfill their duties, but that is especially true for PCTs that are working with dialysis patients. Dialysis patients often need extra explanations, information, and attention due to the nature of the treatment, and their healthcare professional needs to be able to provide that.
If you think you would be a good fit as a patient care technician, you can get started today! Woodruff Medical Testing and Training has an excellent, work-based program that will help you develop all of the skills and qualities that you need to be successful in this field. Call today for more information!