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.
Duties commonly carried out by transplant nurses include:
Transplant nurses often find employment in the following:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Additional certifications to consider:
An aging population along with the advancement in organ transplant technology should ensure the demand for transplant nurses for years to come.
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.