Transplant Nurse

What Is a Transplant Nurse?

Transplant nurses, also sometimes referred to as transplant nurse coordinators, take care of patients who are donating or receiving organs or tissue via a transplant procedure. These nurses play an integral part in the organ transplant team and generally are the health professionals who have the most contact with patients. The transplant nurse is involved in each step of the donation process. They help to prepare living donors who have volunteered to donate organs or tissues for transplant surgery and educate them on the operation, recovery time, and the risks involved. Additionally, transplant nurses identify potential transplant recipients and donors, assist patients who will be receiving organs by readying them for surgery, help loved ones throughout the journey, assist physicians during the procedure, provide post-operative care, and monitor patients for any complications that may arise such as organ rejection.

What Are Some Transplant Nurse Duties?

Duties commonly carried out by transplant nurses include:

  • Educate patients, donors, and their loved ones about the risks associated with transplant surgery
  • Take medical histories of recipients and donors
  • Order lab tests in order to confirm a donor match
  • Evaluate patients' suitability for donation or transplant
  • Clear patients and donors for surgical procedures
  • Monitor and prepare a deceased donor's body for surgery
  • Prepare operating room and/or instruments
  • Ensure safe and sterile operating room
  • Provide pre and post-operative care
  • Assist surgeons during transplant and organ harvesting procedure
  • Monitor the patient's vitals during procedures
  • Be familiar with and know how to recognize cardiovascular and respiratory decline
  • Dress wounds, monitor patients' vital signs after surgery, administer medication, and remain vigilant and be familiar with signs and symptoms of infections or organ rejection
  • Work alongside the discharge team, caregivers, family members to ensure appropriate aftercare
  • Know the correct dosage of medication and be aware of any complications, contraindications, and interactions that may occur

Where Do Transplant Nurses Work?

Transplant nurses often find employment in the following:

  • Specialized organ transplant facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory surgical units

How to Become a Transplant Nurse

Like many nursing specialties, to gain one of the transplant certifications, the first thing you'll need to do is to complete a registered nursing degree. Taking electives in critical care or medical-surgical care are highly suggested. If you wish to advance to the top of the specialty, you may want to consider pursuing a master's degree in organ transplantation.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Although most employers will permit individuals who have either an ADN or BSN degree to become transplant nurses, having a BSN from an accredited school is generally preferred. In addition to having one of these nursing degrees, you will also need to hold a valid and unencumbered RN license in whatever state you plan to practice in. While you're studying to earn your ADN or BSN degree it's also advised to take some courses in critical care, intensive care, and medical-surgery. Ambitious nurses who might want to assume leadership roles in the field should consider pursuing a graduate degree in organ transplantation.

Do Transplant Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Without a doubt, transplant nurses need to hold active and unrestricted RN licenses to practice. Transplant nurses should also have a few years of experience in the field to be eligible for the various certifications that are available via The American Board for Transplant Certification.

Step 2: Required Transplant Nurse Certifications/Credentials

The American Board for Transplant Certification (ABTC) is the organizational body through which registered nurses can gain certifications in transplant healthcare/nursing. The ABTC offers four distinct certifications. They include the following:

  • Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator
  • Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator
  • Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse
  • Certified Transplant Preservationist

Although it's not explicitly required for many transplant nursing positions, the most common of the above credentials is the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse certification. To obtain this certification you will need to have fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Have no less than 2 years of experience as an RN
  • Have no less than 1 year of experience as an RN dealing with organ transplant patients

Additional certifications to consider:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse
  • Critical Care Nurse (CCN)

Transplant Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

An aging population along with the advancement in organ transplant technology should ensure the demand for transplant nurses for years to come.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Excellent interpersonal communication skills, empathy, and compassion, work well in teams, strong leadership skills, the ability to work well under pressure, physical strength, excellent decision-making abilities
  • Job Outlook - It has been estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that job openings in the nursing field are to grow by at least 16% between the years 2014 and 2024 - a growth rate that's substantially higher than the majority of occupational sectors. It's not unreasonable to assume that the specialty field of transplant nursing will grow at a rate that's similar.

What Is the Average Salary of a Transplant Nurse?

According to ZipRecruiter, transplant nurses earn an average annual salary of around $75,000. The total amount a transplant nurse is paid will depend heavily on factors like the city and state they're employed in, their employer, how much work experience they have, and what their educational credentials are. Similar factors will also contribute to the employee benefits packages that a transplant nurse will receive, though most will enjoy generous insurance and retirement packages.

How Much Do Transplant Nurses Make per Year?

  • $58,000 – $90,000 annually

How Much Do Transplant Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $36.00 average hourly wage

Transplant Nurse Resources