They’re all lined up in a row in a lab room in Building 2 of Chemeketa Community College’s Yamhill Valley campus. A line of Fresenius 2008K hemodialysis machines – machines no college in the state of Oregon trained students to operate.
Until now, that is.
Chemeketa’s inaugural class of hemodialysis technician students began their studies this winter term. And for students and faculty alike, it’s an exciting new experience.
For student Ginger Kazemier, hemodialysis offered the opportunity for much more personal patient care. Going into nursing often means it could be months or years before you see the same patient twice. That’s not the case in dialysis, she said.
“These patients come in and see you three times a week,” Kazemier said. “So you get to know them personally – their life history, their family.”
Like other forms of dialysis, hemodialysis is a treatment to remove excess wastes and water from patients suffering from kidney failure. In hemodialysis, blood is taken from the body and run through a machine, where wastes are removed from the blood
The origins of Chemeketa’s hemodialysis technician program go back several years, said Holly Nelson, associate dean of the Yamhill Valley campus. A member of the nursing faculty had a background in dialysis and said there was a need for dialysis technician training. In fact, there were no technician training programs in the state of Oregon; all of the training was being done on the job.
“The closest program was in Tacoma, Washington,” Nelson said. “And very rarely did students come to our area to help fill the workforce need.”
The program would begin with 24 student slots. The spots filled on the first day applications were accepted, Nelson said.
John Ruiz is a hemodialysis tech student after receiving his GED from Chemeketa. Nelson encouraged him to try the program, he said.
“I wasn’t too sure at the time, but as I progressed, I decided that it would be something to get into,” Ruiz said. “A stable career for my family, a future. Something that I could actually have a future for.”
Hemodialysis technician students can see the need for their job by looking out a classroom: Both DaVita and Fresenius, two of the primary dialysis care providers in the state of Oregon, have clinics within 200 yards of the Yamhill Valley campus. Dialysis is primarily done in these clinics as opposed to hospitals. Both companies are involved in the program’s advisory committee and a clinic manager, a Chemeketa nursing graduate, is one of the program’s part-time faculty.
Student Athena Laquerre has a dialysis nurse in the family, so she was excited to find out Chemeketa was offering a program after taking a CPR class. Being in the program has broadened her excitement about hemodialysis beyond the patient care aspect.
“I’m not only interested in helping people feel better, but I like the biomechanical setup of it,” Laquerre said. “It’s fascinating how they do it.”
Beyond hemodialysis, the program is designed as a health career pathway program, with some courses filling prerequisites for a nursing degree. Nelson said the program is set up to run during the winter, spring and summer terms to allow students to use the fall term to do prerequisites or start the nursing program in fall after completing the hemodialysis technician program.
For more information on Chemeketa’s hemodialysis technician program, visit the hemodialysis technician section of Chemeketa’s website.