How to Become a Hyperbaric Technician

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Hyperbaric therapy treats decompression sickness from SCUBA diving or mining accidents. Physicians also use hyperbaric treatment for difficult wound care, burn injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning and radiation therapy aftereffects. Hyperbaric therapy saturates a patient’s body with 100 percent oxygen while the patient rests inside a sealed chamber. The patient experiences improved blood circulation and more efficient delivery of oxygen to the blood. Highly skilled hyperbaric technicians, who follow a physician-prescribed treatment plan for each patient, are a key to successful hyperbaric therapy.

Document your health care certification. Ensure that you have a current medical certification that qualifies you for a hyperbaric technician training program. Since the 1960s, hyperbaric technicians have been trained from the ranks of respiratory therapists, nurses, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. These trained personnel possess an intimate working knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. Confirm your eligibility by consulting with your employer’s personnel office. Obtain a copy of your certification.

Complete an approved hyperbaric technician training course. Locate a regional hospital that operates a hyperbaric treatment facility and offers an approved hyperbaric technician training program. Satisfy the program’s entry and completion requirements.

Explore hyperbaric technician training programs at specialized facilities. At a commercial diving academy, for example, the hyperbaric technician program includes five hours of classroom time and 39 hours of practical application work.

Complete hyperbaric technician certification requirements. Fulfill program criteria established by the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology, or NBDHMT. Maintain certification in the medical discipline that qualifies you for the hyperbaric technician program. Complete technician classroom and practical skills requirements; plus a 480-hour internship focused on hyperbaric, aviation or undersea medicine. Learn about hyperbaric chamber systems functions, standard and emergency treatment procedures, patient care concerns and safety protocols. Pass an NBDHMT technician certification exam, and plan to complete a continuing education program.

Contact facilities that employ hyperbaric technicians. Visit regional hospitals, especially larger ones that include specialized wound care or burn treatment facilities. Contact free-standing wound care practices as well. Identify hyperbaric facilities offering treatment for diving emergencies and other injuries that benefit from hyperbaric therapy.

For example, North Carolina’s Duke University hosts the Duke Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology. This highly recognized treatment center provides hyperbaric treatment for United States military personnel, as well as regional fire, police and rescue units. The Duke Center also performs applied research related to decompression illness, carbon monoxide emergencies and radiation effects.

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About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.