How to Become a Transplant Nurse

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Every day many people undergo essential organ transplants to save their lives or improve bodily functions. Transplant nurses are registered nurses that provide care for patients that receive transplants and living organ donors.


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In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a transplant nurse do?

Transplant nurses provide care to a variety of patients that have undergone organ transplants. They also provide necessary care to living organ donors. They perform patient assessments, check vital signs, record observations in medical charts, administer medication, and monitor patients for signs of organ rejection. They prepare patients for transplantation and administer the essential antibiotics and immunosuppressant medications. Transplant nurses also perform technical tasks such as the management and care of central venous catheters and the placement of urinary catheters. They operate equipment including bladder scanners and electrocardiographs (ECG).

What kind of training does a transplant nurse need?

Transplant nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. Many transplant nurses gain a year of post-graduate experience in transplant nursing. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Many transplant nurses also gain the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN) designation from the American Board for Transplant Certification. Certification requirements include minimum experience and passing a written examination. Transplant nurses must complete regular continuing education throughout their careers to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast on the current advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a transplant nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for a variety of transplants will drive job growth of transplant nurses.

Job prospects should be great especially for transplant nurses with extensive experience and professional certification. Numerous job opportunities will arise from the need to replace transplant nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do transplant nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for transplant nurses is $62,000; average annual transplant nurse salaries vary by location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a transplant nurse is a great choice for individuals interested in providing the essential care to patients receiving organ transplants and living organ donors. Transplant nurses must have a solid understanding of the policies and procedures of providing transplant nursing care. Patience, detail orientation, compassion, determination, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Transplant nurses must have excellent communication and the ability to work as part of a team. They must have good bedside manner and the ability to help patients feel at ease. They must also be quick on their feet and be able to make effective decisions in emergency situations.

Joshua T Osborne

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