Transplant nurses work with patients who are either recipients of organ transplants or living donors. Transplant nurses provide nursing care, support, and education for the patients and their families throughout the entire transplant process. In addition to basic nursing duties like taking vital signs, monitoring, and assessing patient and administering medications, a transplant nurse performs specialized nursing tasks, like watching for signs of organ rejection. Transplant nurses who specialize by type of treatment can treat all kinds of patients, of all ages. A large majority of the patients that a transplant nurse works with are patients who have undergone bone marrow or kidney transplants.
If you are interested in becoming a transplant nurse, you will have to first become a registered nurse if you are not already. In just two years, you can earn an associate degree of science in nursing (ASN), which you can also use as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Ideally, to be more competitive for positions upon graduation you would want to earn a bachelor of science in nursing. If you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you could pursue an accelerated nursing degree program, which requires just one to two years of study. All of these nursing degrees must be from accredited nursing programs to be eligible to take the national licensure exam. Whether it’s a two year or four year program, your studies will involve clinical and hospital training and classroom study in subjects such as anatomy, chemistry, pharmacology, and microbiology. Once you graduate from an accredited nursing program, the final step is to pass the state’s board of nursing computer-based licensing exam, which is called NCLEX (national council licensure examination). Passing this will make you eligible to become a licensed registered nurse (RN) in your state as long as all other state requirements have been fulfilled.
Transplant Nurse Certification
Transplant Nurse certification, while voluntary, is the next logical step in this nursing specialty after becoming a licensed RN and getting a couple of years of nursing work experience under your belt. Transplant nurse certification is not legally required, but is generally considered a requirement for hiring by most employers. Becoming a Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN) involves passing the certification exam given by the American Board for Transplant Certification (ABTC). Because it is voluntary, transplant nurse certification demonstrates your professionalism and dedication to transplant nursing, not to mention your expertise. Because you need to recertify every three years, transplant nurse certification shows that you are current in a field that is constantly evolving and incorporating new research and technologies. In order to be eligible to take the certification test, you must have worked for two years as a registered nurse, twelve months of which must involve working directly with organ transplant patients.
The salary for a transplant nurse can average as high as $74,358, for transplant nurse coordinators, according to salary.com. Transplant nursing is projected to see major growth as the nursing profession grows rapidly in general and as specialized nursing fields earn more respect and job responsibilities. If you are interested in transplant nursing, check out the International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS). It is the premier professional organization for this specialty, and can help you learn from skilled transplant nurses, network, and find out about conferences, continuing education, and job opportunities. Healthcare and nursing is going to continue to see job growth for many years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which should provide you with a sense of security and confidence that making the move to become a transplant nurse is a promising career decision. If you are interested in transplant nursing and would like to take advantage of this growing market, get started now on your nursing education. Find a Nursing Program.
(Sources: ITNS- International Transplant Nurses Society, ABTC – American Board for Transplant Certification)