Becoming a patient care technician (PCT), or dialysis technician, is not as easy as some people may think. There is much education involved in addition to testing for specific certifications. In order to be allowed to take certification and licensing testing you must first have a high school diploma or at least the equivalent, such as a general education diploma, or GED. You also must have an entire year of experience working with dialysis patients and have graduated from an accredited dialysis course.

Patient Care Technician Test

 Once these steps are complete you can go for your dialysis technician testing but you must renew your certification/licensure every four years.

To make sure that each dialysis technician follows the same rules and standards of the profession as it relates to the care and safety of patients, most every state in the country requires one of three certifications. These are the CCHT, the CHT, and the CCNT combined with the CBNT. I’ll explain what all these acronyms mean.

CCHT stands for Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician and is granted by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC).

CHT stands for Certified Hemodialysis Technologist/Technician  and is offered by the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT).

CCNT stands for Certified in Clinical Nephrology Technology and CBNT stands for Certified in Biomedical Nephrology Technology. Both these certifications are offered by the National Nephrology Certification Organization (NNCO).

While all of these testing certifications and licensures are similar to each other and all states accept any of them, there are different standards for each one that you should be aware of.

CCHT

The requirements for earning this certification are as follows:

  • Having a total of 6 months or more working with a department of nephrology

  • Passing your state’s exam

Once you have earned this certification you must do the following:

  • Renew your certification once every three years

You will only get a renewal if you have worked as a dialysis technician for a minimum of 3000 hours and have done at least 30 hours of continuing education and/or activities of a professional nature.

CHT

The requirements for this certification are as follows:

  • One year of nephrology technology experience

  • Passing your state’s exam

Once you have earned this certification you must do the following:

  • Renew your certification once every four years

To renew, you have the following choices:

  • Do 40 hours of professional activities or continuing education

  • Applying for a 1 time wavier if you have been unable to complete the full 40 hours

  • Retake the exam given by BONENT

CHT Details

 The CHT exam is broken down in the following way:

  • Personal Development and Education 15%

  • Patient Care 65%

  • Water Treatment 5%

  • Machine Technology 10%

  • Dialyzer Reprocessing 5%

For this test you have a time limit of three hours to complete 150 questions, all multiple choices. In order to qualify to take the test in the first place you have to provide the testing coordinator proof of your high school completion. The only thing that is considered acceptable proof is official high school/GED transcripts. They must have the signature of the school’s principal. If you have a GED then you must have the signature from the dean of students. The transcripts also must be sealed. In addition to this, you must show that you have completed an accredited course in dialysis from a school that has the approval of the BONENT Board, plus a year experience in patient care dealing with nephrology. Finally, you have to have two letters of reference that have been signed by supervisors or professors. Letters from mentors may also be accepted but this is up to the discretion of the BONENT Board of directors. You must submit an application to take the exam and when you do you have to be employed in the field or your application will not be accepted.

Although all of the above is required in one form or another in each state, check with your state’s board of dialysis technicians to ensure that you have everything prepared before you move forward.

CBNT & CCNT

The requirements of this certification are as follows:

  • Having at least one year of experience being involved in nephrology technology

  • Pass your state exams

Once you have this certification you must do the following:

  • Recertify once every four years

  • Have at least 30 hours of some form of continuing education

Preparing for your Patient Care Technician test

For many people, taking tests is a stressful event. Before going in for your patient care technician test it is very important to be prepared both emotionally and educationally. As mentioned above, you must be employed as a dialysis technician before you will be eligible to take the test. The majority of employers will allow you to work as a dialysis technician without your certification under the condition that you take the exam within a specific period of time after being hired – 18 months per CMS regulations. (Some states require that you work as a dialysis technician for a certain amount of both supervised and unsupervised hours before taking the test as well.) This is your time to really get prepared for your test. While working as a dialysis technician, be as hands on as you possibly can. Ask your coworkers, supervisors and others who have experience in the field questions to enhance your own knowledge and experience. Study hard and use the resources on this and other sites to help prepare you for this important test that will help determine the course of your future career.