If you’re fascinated by medicine and enjoy administrative aspects, transplant nursing could be a perfect fit for you. Transplant nurse jobs allow you to combine patient care, education, and coordination. As you can imagine, organ transplant procedures are complicated, and nurses in this field specialize in the task of organ procurement and the actual transplant. These nurses work with organ donors to find a donor match and also assist in the operating room during transplant surgeries.
If you feel like you’ve perhaps found your calling in transplant nursing, we highly recommend also looking into a career in pain management nursing. Both specialties are extremely specific and complex, and you’ll have to go through an equally specific education. Either way, you need to be passionate and dedicated to ensuring your educational journey and the demands of your career are worth it.
If this job does sound worth it to you, kudos! You’ll be influential in saving lives, and many patients will have your passion and attentiveness to thank.
What is a transplant nurse?
In an organ transplant procedure, everything has to go right, and transplant nurses play a crucial role in ensuring that happens. A transplant nurse is part of the team that monitor’s the patient’s safety throughout the procedure and afterward during recovery as well.
Transplant nurses must receive highly specialized training to perform this sensitive work, which goes beyond traditional nursing tasks. Not only do transplant nurses provide critical care, but they also help coordinate the transplant process by directly working with donors and recipients.
What does a transplant nurse do?
In addition to working with patients directly, transplant nurses also perform administrative work for the actual surgery. In their clinical care role, transplant nurses prepare patients for transplant surgeries, help surgeons during operations, and monitor the organ recipient’s vital signs post-op. They closely monitor patients to watch for organ rejection or failure.
In their administrative role, transplant nurses coordinate donors and recipients to find an organ match. They also inform donors and transplant recipients on what to expect during the entire process. Part of the work transplant nurses do with patients is managing expectations, as organ transplant waiting lists can be extremely long. These nurses guide patients in living their best, healthiest lives as they wait for an organ.
How to become a transplant nurse
To become a transplant nurse, you’ll first have to receive highly specialized education. This journey won’t be quick or easy, but your nursing career should be long and fruitful.
Get your college degree
To become any type of registered nurse (RN), you’ll need to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited program. The ADN is more limited as a degree and does not serve as a base for certain specializations, but it can be completed in half the time of a BSN. That said, aspiring transplant nurses can use either of these degrees as a base for this career. But if you think you may want to switch to another specialization later on, starting with a BSN can offer you more opportunities.
Get your nursing license
To become a registered nurse, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you do, you can apply for licensure for your state and begin practicing.
Gain clinical experience
Textbooks are great, but there is nothing quite like hands-on experience. Only after working as a registered nurse for 24 months, 12 of which focused on organ transplant care, can you apply to get certified as a transplant nurse.
Get your transplant nurse certification
Once you’ve completed the minimum clinical experience requirements, it’s time to take the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse Certification exam facilitated by the American Board for Transplant Certification. Many employers will look for this certification on your resume, so having it will make you a more attractive candidate for positions in the field.
Complete life support training
Future employers will also look for life support training from soon-to-be transplant nurses. You can earn the Basic Life Support Certification offered by the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross or the more advanced Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse Certification. If you have the time and means, we recommend getting the most advanced certifications possible to be a stand-out job candidate.
Transplant nurse salary
After you’ve completed all your schooling and certifications, we’re sure you’ll find it rewarding to work as a transplant nurse. And we hope you find the salary rewarding as well.
Here’s what you can expect:
The average annual salary for a transplant nurse in the United States is approximately $76,000, but some professionals in this field earn in the six-figure range. While the salary range for this role is vast, you can generally expect to earn between $58,000 and $91,500 annually. Some transplant nurses make nearly $140,000 annually, however.
If you further specialize, for example, by becoming a bone marrow transplant nurse, you stand to earn even more on average. A bone marrow transplant nurse’s salary is around $93,000 annually in the US. Transplant nurse coordinators, who specialize even further in matching deceased or living donor organs with recipients, also earn a higher salary of around $88,000 annually in the US.
As a transplant nurse, your job is to help patients hoping to receive a new organ. Ours is to keep you looking stylish and feeling comfortable and confident while doing so. Feel free to count on us just as your patients count on you because we’re here to offer you all the support we possibly can to healthcare professionals.