Becoming a transplant nurse is just one of many options you have when you join the nursing profession. Transplant nurses are licensed Registered Nurses (RNs) who specialize in organ transplants.
Transplant nurses play a crucial role during organ transplant surgeries. They work with both organ donors and recipients to help the process go smoothly. Educating both donors and recipients on the risks and rewards of organ donation is just one aspect of the job. As part of their responsibilities, transplant nurses also assist medical professionals during organ donation preparation for organ transplants. They may also support surgeons during the transplant procedure.
In the article we will explore:
- What are the main responsibilities of a transplant nurse?
- Who do transplant nurses work with?
- How much do transplant nurses make?
- How do I become a transplant nurse?
What are the main responsibilities of a transplant nurse?
More than 39,000 organ transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2020 alone. Seventeen people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant. As of February 2021, there were more than 107,000 men, women, and children on the national organ transplant list waiting for donors. With the demand for organ transplants in the U.S. continuing to rise, the need has never been greater for nurses specializing in organ transplants.
Transplant nurses are on the front lines of the organ donation process. Here are some of the main responsibilities of transplant nurses:
- Organ donation education. Transplant nurses are tasked with educating both organ donors and recipients about the organ donation process. This includes any risks associated with donating or receiving a donor organ, plus responsibilities and rules for both parties. If the transplant involves a living donor, they and their family members (when applicable) will be given strict guidelines on how to prepare for the procedure, and what to expect afterward. Organ recipients are prepped for the procedure and the road to recovery.
- Transplant preparation. Transplant nurses help prepare the donor and recipient for the procedure on the day of the transplant surgery. They can expect to assist transplant surgeons during this phase of the process.
- Transplant surgery assistance. Transplant nurses also assist during the transplant procedure in the operating room. Their responsibilities are directed by the transplant surgeon.
- Transplant after-care. Following a transplant, the organ recipient will require monitoring and medical assistance during their recovery. This includes close monitoring for signs of infection or organ rejection following the transplant surgery.
Who do transplant nurses work with?
Transplant nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and specialized organ transplant facilities. They work with a team of transplant medical professionals including surgeons, transplant coordinators, and surgical technologists.
Transplant nurses also work with organ donors, recipients, and their families before, during, and after a transplant procedure. Since transplant nurses provide before and after care, they are likely to have significant contact with patients and their families.
How much does a transplant nurse make?
The growing demand for organ transplants in the U.S. is helping to drive salary expectations for transplant nurses. RNs earn an average median salary of $71,510 according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurses with specialties, such as transplant nurses, can expect to earn even higher wages than the average for an RN. The highest wage earners in this nursing category were making $106,530 as of May 2018. Salaries can vary depending on location.
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How do I become a transplant nurse?
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a transplant nurse, the first step in your journey is to complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Once you pass the NCLEX-RN exam you may also choose an RN to BSN program. This program will shorten the normal four-year BSN program to one to two years. Transplant nurses must work as RNs for two years before qualifying for the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse Certification exam offered by the American Board for Transplant Certification.
Nursing candidates who know they want to specialize in organ transplants should take courses focused on medical-surgical techniques and best practices. Additional training in critical care and intensive care settings are also recommended. Incredible Health offers free nursing CEUs for all phases of your nursing career. Sign up for your free account to get started today.
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