Transplant Nurse Certification – Overview
A transplant nurse certification is a requirement to work as a transplant nurse.
This certification allows nurses to take care of patients who are donating or receiving organs through a surgical transplant procedure.
These professionals are trained to prepare donors to donate tissues or organs for transplant.
They work to educate the donors about the procedure details, the recovery process and any potential risks.
Transplant nurses also care for patients who have undergone a tissue or organ transplant by getting them ready for surgery, assisting during the surgical procedure and offering post-operative care.
This includes checking for complications, such as organ rejection.
Essential Steps to Be a Certified Transplant Nurse
Similar to other nursing careers, the first step to becoming a transplant nurse is to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN).
This gets you a basic nursing education. If you wish to specialize in tissue or organ transplant, it is highly recommended to take medical-surgical courses.
You should also gain experience in intensive and critical care units.
You need to then work as an RN for two years with 12 months of direct care of organ transplant patients.
This qualifies you to take the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse Certification exam from the American Board for Transplant Certification (ABTC).
Usually, a transplant nurse position at a healthcare organization requires the following qualifications:
#1. BSN or ADN degree
#2. Valid RN license
#3. Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse Certification or Basic Life Support Certification
#4. Excellent communication skills to educate donors, recipients and family members about transplant procedures, risks and post-operative care
#5. Having proficiency in computer programs and data entry to maintain patient records
#6. Experience in critical care, operating room procedures, or intensive care
Educational Requirements for Certified Transplant Nurse
Transplant nurses usually need to have a BSN or ADN degree, preferably the former. They should also have a valid, unrestricted RN license in the state they wish to practice.
During nursing education, aspiring transplant nurses should also undertake medical-surgical courses. They are also required to get training in intensive and critical care settings.
Certifications and Credential for Certified Transplant Nurse
Registered nurses who aim to specialize in transplant nursing should consider becoming Certified Clinical Transplant Nurses.
The ABTC (American Board for Transplant Certification) holds this certification exam.
This exam is open for all RNs who have completed a minimum of 2 years working as an RN. These nurses should also have at least 12 months of experience in the direct care of organ transplant patients.
With this certification, RNs get a competitive edge and get choice placements when seeking employment.
Besides this, as most transplant nurses work directly with patients in critical care, many transplant nurses need RNs to have a Basic Life Support Certification.
You can choose to get one from the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
Job Opportunities for Certified Transplant Nurses
As a completely qualified and certified transplant nurse, you can expect to work with donor, recipients and their families in:
#2. Special organ transplant facilities
#3. Ambulatory surgical units
Responsibilities of Certified Transplant Nurse
A transplant nurse helps in every phase of organ and tissue transplant procedure. This includes all the way from the preparation stage to the donation and all the way to recovery and discharge.
These professionals prepare donors for donation surgery. This involves educating the donor about the procedure, the recovery process and any potential risks related to organ or tissue donation.
These nurses also prepare non-living donors by monitoring and readying the donor’s body for the surgery.
Transplant nurses often assist surgeons during the transplant procedure.
They prepare the operating room and surgical instruments, which ensures a sterile and safe environment in the operating room. They also monitor the patient’s vital signs during a surgical transplant procedure.
A major responsibility of transplant nurses includes caring for organ recipients.
They care for patients who have received tissue or organs, prepare them for the surgery and offer post-operative care.
This includes monitoring the patient during the recovery phase and checking for signs of organ rejection.
They are also required to educate the patient regarding dressing wounds and post-operative care.
Employment and Salary for Certified Transplant Nurse
There is an incredibly high demand for organ transplants in the US, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
This has also increased the demand for certified transplant nursing professionals in the country.
According to reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certified and registered transplant nurses can earn up to US$ 76,000 (25th percentile) per year as an average salary.
Those with specialized knowledge and skills end up earning significantly more than this.
Remember, salary ranges usually depend on the particular state you are practicing in, apart from education level and experience, certifications, etc.
Those nurses with higher-level certifications and significant experience end up earning more than other certified transplant nurses.
You can earn transplant nurse certification if you have a BSN or an ADN degree. Most employers prefer a transplant nurse to have a BSN degree as they can also act as case managers for transplant patients.
Still, before applying for a position as a certified transplant nurse, make sure to check the specific requirements of the individual employer.