Transplant Nurse


Transplant Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
A transplant nurse is a highly specialized nursing position that provides patient care and support to those who are receiving organ transplants. This specialty nurse works with patients before, during, and after the transplant surgery.  They help educate patients on the possible procedure including explaining the procedure and its potential risks as well as aftercare.  They may also work with living donors – patients who choose to donate an organ to someone else, such as bone marrow, a kidney, or part of the liver.

Nurses who work in the transplant specialty assist doctors by taking patient histories, getting the proper signatures on donor documents, assist with setting up lab tests, helping evaluate the results of tests, and provide information to patients and their families about their condition, their procedure, and their care.

How to Become a Transplant Nurse

The career path begins with an undergraduate nursing program to attain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN).  The BSN degree should be earned through an accredited college or university.  Those nurses with associate degrees such as the ADN (associate degree in nursing), should consider taking a bridge program to earn a BSN degree in order to pursue becoming a specialty nursing position.

After earning a nursing degree, you will need to take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse in your state.  Additionally, in order to gain the expertise and credentials necessary to get a job as in transplant nursing you should consider becoming board certified as a Certified Clinical Nurse specializing in organ transplants.  This is done through the American Board for Transplant Certification (ABTC).  Nurses with a specialty in transplants may also opt to join the Transplant Nurses’ Association (TNA). The ABTC awards nurses with the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN). Before earning certification, nurses must meet certain requirements and pass an examination. To sit for the exam, applicants must have two years experience as a Registered Nurse (RN) with half of that time spent caring for transplant patients. The certification exam consists of 100 questions covering several areas of transplant nursing. Certification is not required, but it is recommended by the Transplant Nurses’ Association.

Transplant Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

The nurse who wishes to work in the area of transplants must follow a strong educational path.  First, you must complete undergraduate work to attain your Bachelor of Science in nursing degree (BSN).  After completion of the BSN degree you should consider going on to a Master’s program.  Many MSN programs require that you first establish your career by working for several years.  During that time it is helpful to work in an ICU or related area that will give you specific skills necessary to go into transplant nursing. Then, you can enter a program to earn your Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN).  Choose a specialty that will allow you to learn as much as possible to prepare you to work in the organ transplant arena.

Transplant Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The career outlook for all types of nurses is expected to be very good.  Because this is a highly specialized nursing position, the job outlook is even better.  The demand for organ transplants is on the rise, with many thousands of people on the waiting list to receive an organ.  The salary for a nurse with a specialization in organ transplants is expected to be between $60,000 and $72,000 annually.  Several factors will affect the salary including such things as your education, your experience, and the location.  Those with the most education and experience are more likely to achieve a higher salary. 

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