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Transplant Nurse 101
- Have you heard of transplant nurses?
- Are you wondering, “What does a transplant nurse do?“
- Let‘s break it down and cover everything you need to know about transplant nurses!
MPH, MSN, WHNP-BC
You’re here because you’re wondering what is a transplant nurse! A transplant nurse, also known as an organ transplant or organ donor nurse, is a nurse who cares for people who are in need of organ transplants. Some transplant nurses might work specifically with certain organ systems or certain age groups, like pediatrics or veterans.
Transplant nurses often have a deep desire to educate patients, are proficient in human anatomy, and can remain organized in stressful situations.
Like all nurses, transplant nurses are educated and trained in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and assessment. However, their work is specifically on the processes involved with receiving an organ transplant and educating patients on life with a transplant.
When I first started to read about nursing and the different nursing specialties, I wondered about the differences between transplant nurses and other nursing options. Navigating health care as a patient and navigating health care paths are both complicated.
Whether you are curious about entering the nursing profession or wondering about the transplant nurse role, this post is for you!
What Kind of Education Does a Transplant Nurse Have?
Transplant nurses are often registered nurses with an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Some places hire licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) as transplant nurses. However, some places may only hire registered nurses as transplant nurses since RNs have more autonomy and wider scope of practice.
Some hospitals also have new graduate residency programs specializing in transplant nursing.
What Is the Salary of a Transplant Nurse?
Salary varies by state and place of employment, such as a hospital or private practice. Typically, hospitals pay more than private practices, and transplant nurses with more experience tend to have a higher salary than those without experience.
According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average salary for a transplant nurse is $83,000. Note that this average varies depending on experience, location, and place of work.
Where Do Transplant Nurses Work?
The majority of transplant nurses work directly in hospitals.
However, other places of employment include:
- Clinical research facilities
- Non-profit organizations
- Telehealth start-ups
- Military health services
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Ambulatory health centers
- Specialized organ transplant offices
- Community health centers, and more.
Transplant nurses can also work as nurse educators, independent consultants, be part of nursing management, or teach at nursing schools.
What Do Transplant Nurses Do?
Transplant nurses have many tasks and responsibilities, such as:
- Collecting accurate medical histories for organ donors and organ recipients
- Reviewing lab tests
- Examining medical records
- Preparing organ donors and organ recipients for surgery
- Assisting surgeons during transplant procedures
- Monitoring patients post-operatively
- Providing extensive pre- and post-transplant education for donors and recipients
- Following up with patients for transplant complications or concerns
- Administering immunizations
- Dispensing medications
- Providing referrals to transplant support resources
- Maintaining a comfortable, welcoming, and safe environment
- Collaborating with other health care professionals
- and of course, educating patients as appropriate.
It is important to note that this nursing role involves significant patient education. Many people have questions about organ transplants, recovery, cost, pain, and more.
This is just a sample of what transplant nurses can do! The scope of work for a transplant nurse truly depends on their training, local boards of nursing, workplace practices, and local legislation.
Why Should I Consider Becoming a Transplant Nurse?
It’s well-known that nurses make a difference in people’s lives. Transplant nurses can change someone’s life forever and are often with a patient throughout the entire transplant process. From the initial visits to after surgery and all the visits in-between, transplant nurses can provide both acute and chronic care to their patients.
Transplant nurses are often among the main points of contact for patient education, patient surgical preparation, patient follow-up, and more.
Transplant nurses can see a patient’s life change over time and help them during one of the most important transitions in their life.
If you are considering being a transplant nurse, I would recommend that you ask yourself if you truly are passionate about anatomy, patient education, surgery, and long-term patient relationships.
The Bottom Line
If you are thinking about becoming a transplant nurse or learning more about the profession, I would recommend looking into the International Transplant Nurses Society, the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, and the American Nurse Association.
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