Jennifer Fink | NursingLink
A good transplant nurse is:
• A team player. Transplant nurses work closely with physicians, discharge planners, transplant coordinators and research personnel. Because most transplant nurses work in academic medical centers, they often work with interns, residents, fellows and student nurses as well.
• A good teacher. A transplant is a major life change. To successfully care for their new organ, patients need to manage a complex medication regimen at home. They also need to know the signs of infection or rejection and what to do if those signs appear. The best transplant nurses incorporate patient teaching into their care. Some transplant units also offer patient classes, taught by nurses.
• Quick to respond. Patient conditions can change rapidly after surgery. A nurse may also need to modify her workflow to quickly admit new patients if organs become available.
• Interested in science. Many transplant patients receive new drugs as part of a research protocol. Transplant nurses work closely with research coordinators to collect data. Transplant nursing also evolves to reflect the latest scientific thinking.
Most hospitals require transplant nurses to have at least an RN; many require a BSN. Previous experience is not required, though a strong med-surg background may be helpful before making the leap to transplant nursing.
The International Transplant Nurses Society offers a variety of continuing education programs for nurses interested in transplant, including the Core Curriculum for Transplant Nurses. Board certification is available through the American Board for Transplant Certification.
According to SimplyHired.com, the average salary for a transplant nurse is $62,000. Nurses, especially experienced transplant nurses, may also apply for a job as transplant coordinator. Transplant coordinators work with patients both and after surgery (but do not handle clinical care pre- and post-surgery). The average median wage for transplant coordinators in the United States is $76,000, according to salary.com.