HAMLET — The statistics for kidney disease are staggering.
One in three American adults is currently at risk for developing kidney disease. Once the kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant is required. Approximately 450,000 Americans are on dialysis.
Richmond Community College has a Dialysis Technology diploma program that trains technicians to work in dialysis centers, hospitals and other healthcare settings that offer dialysis treatment.
RCC instructor Renea Craven experienced firsthand the need for skilled and motivated healthcare workers when her husband was diagnosed several years ago with kidney cancer that resulted in his being dependent on dialysis treatment.
“Dialysis is a life-sustaining treatment, and you want a healthcare provider who is not only knowledgeable but also empathetic because you’re going to be seeing them not just one time but several times a week for several hours at a time,” said Craven, who is Allied Health chair and lead instructor for the Medical Assisting program at RCC.
Craven spearheaded the Dialysis Technology program at RCC, which can be completed in one year.
“This diploma program provides technicians with the skill set to serve as support staff for physicians treating dialysis patients. It will also teach them how to be advocates for their patients,” Craven said. “The majority of people who are on dialysis are chronically ill, and some will be on dialysis the remainder of their lives after kidney failure. You don’t want a caregiver who hooks a patient up to a machine and then walks away. You need someone who is concerned for that patient’s other needs such as diet and nutrition, family or work issues, problems with insurance, depression or fatigue and their overall care plan.”
Dr. John Shepherd, a nephrologist with Pinehurst Nephrology Associates, said there is a growing need for staffing at dialysis centers.
“One of the problems we run into at the unit is we have chairs available, but sometimes we don’t have the staffing available — be it nurses, technicians, social workers or dietitians. To have a conduit of trained technicians from the college would be helpful to get patients in and out more smoothly,” Shepherd said.
RCC is currently enrolling students for the fall semester. New student registration will be held July 9 and Aug. 11-13 on RCC’s main campus, 1042 W. Hamlet Ave. in Hamlet. Applications can be submitted online at www.richmondcc.edu.
For information, call RCC at 910-410-1700 or visit www.richmondcc.edu.