The Dialysis Technology Program at Richmond Community College is a new one-year program that will offer job opportunities to students who complete it.
The program is scheduled to begin this fall semester and will be a necessary component for future technicians.
Renea Craven, department chair of allied health at the college, said that currently dialysis technicians are trained on the job, but legislation will be changing in the near future to adhere to the Affordable Care Act.
“Technicians will need an education,” Craven said. “We wanted to step in before this is a requirement. There is such a need for this. There are many jobs available, and there’s around eight dialysis clinics in a 30-mile range from here. There is a high job market for them.”
Craven said that each clinic employs around seven technicians and that the starting salary for technicians can range approximately from $10 to $14 per hour.
Craven said to be admitted to the program a student must complete all developmental courses with a C average. The student must also have CPR certification and have received immunization prior to enrollment. Students may also have to go through a criminal background check as well as drug testing if the clinic site requires them to do so.
The reason for this is because the students in the new program will begin clinicals immediately along with classes.
“Clinicals and classes will run together since it is only a three semester long program,” Craven said.
Craven said that it is a 40 credit hour program. The current charge for tuition at the college is $71.50 per credit hour making the total for the program alone $2,860. Another $600 might also be needed for books, uniforms, drug testing and other fees. Students may not have to do the additional developmental courses, and pay the additional tuition, if they place out of them through the ACCUPLACER placement test, which a student may schedule to take by contacting the college.
Craven said the college is also hoping to become a testing center for dialysis technicians as well. In order to be approved as a testing site, the college will have to run the first initial group through before being able to apply. This means that the first set of students will have to be tested elsewhere, but the clinics are willing to work with the college to get these students tested.
The program is nearly two years in the making.
“From the initial idea to making it a reality, it can take up to two years for a program to be formed,” said RCC President Dale McInnis. “We wanted to get some more programs and wanted to get another health care program. I challenged the faculty to come up with some ideas.”
The program was initially Craven’s idea. Craven said her husband was sick and became a dialysis patient. Her exposure to the process of dialysis made her realize the need for dialysis technicians. Once her husband was stabilized, she brought the idea of a new program to the college.
The idea was well received as something different to add to the college.
“We don’t want to duplicate what other area colleges have,” McInnis said. “We are looking for programs that really fill a gap and provide not just a hope for employment, but a real chance for employment.”