How Do You Become a Transplant Nurse?

If you want to become a transplant nurse, you have several steps ahead of you. You’ll need to complete a nursing degree, and some employers might require you to earn a certification as a clinical transplant nurse or transplant case coordinator. Here’s what you need to know about starting a career as a transplant nurse.

What Do Transplant Nurses Do?

If you want a hybrid career that combines patient education with hands-on care and surgical involvement, you’ll enjoy transplant nursing. You will be the primary educator for transplant recipients and their family, so you’ll need to patiently explain changes in their lifestyle and medication routine. When organs are available for transplanting, you’ll be expected to assist during the surgery. You’ll also monitor patients during discharge. Transplant nurses love their work because they can combine multiple types of nursing in the same day.

Do You Need a BSN to Become a Transplant Nurse?

Most nursing specialties require you to have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) or even a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN). Transplant nursing is different. You can find work in this field with a two-year Associate’s of Nursing (ASN) as long as you’re a registered nurse (RN). That makes transplant nursing a great option if you want to start working as soon as possible. Once you’ve gained employment with a hospital or transplant center, you can enter an RN-to-BSN bridge program and further your education. In urban markets with multiple nursing schools, you may have trouble finding work until you get your BSN or MSN. Look at local job postings to see what the standards are in your community.

What Kind of Certification Do You Need to Be a Transplant Nurse?

No special licensure is required to work with transplant nurses. However, you can make your resume stand out with voluntary certification from the American Board for Transplant Certification. You’ll need to pass an exam, which you cannot take until you have worked for 24 months as a registered nurse. At least 12 of those months must involve providing clinical care for organ transplants, so you won’t qualify if you’ve spent all your time as a transplant coordinator or procurement specialist. Once you pass the exam and become a Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN), you’ll need to take ongoing training classes to maintain your certification.

How Much Do Transplant Nurses Earn?

Nursing is a lucrative field. As a clinical transplant nurse at a busy hospital, you can work nearly unlimited overtime. You’ll also qualify for holiday and weekend pay, because transplant surgeries happen whenever organs are available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average pay for registered nurses was $67, 490 in 2015. The cost of living in your area may increase the amount you earn. If you work as a transplant coordinator, you might earn a lower salary than a clinical nurse, but your work will be less physically taxing. Some health care systems offer bonus pay to nurses with master’s degrees or certification.

Related Resource: What is a Long-Term Care Nurse?

It’s easy to see why this nursing specialty is so popular. In return for investing in your education to become a transplant nurse, you will enjoy a respectable salary and personally rewarding work.