An organ transplant comes at the worst time in someone’s life—moments filled with tragedy, trauma, uncertainty, and fear. For those dealing with the heart-wrenching decisions surrounding organ transplant, it is often the nurses and hospital personnel who help keep them focused and in as positive a mindset as possible. You can be one of the outstanding individuals who dedicate their lives to this life-changing profession and those in need. And there are so many who are in need. The highest number of organ transplants ever in the United States occurred in 2021 and current projections expect 2022 numbers to surpass that mark.
While technological advancements have increased the number of life-changing transplants, there is still a demand for compassionate individuals to join transplant teams. Transplant nurses play an integral role in the team’s success. If you’re ready to make a real difference in your community, now is the time to begin your journey toward becoming a transplant nurse.
What is a Transplant Nurse?
A transplant nurse is involved in every step of the organ transplant process, working closely alongside the patient to ensure their entire experience goes smoothly. As part of their responsibilities, transplant nurses:
- Evaluate patients and donors while creating appropriate treatment plans
- Prepare patients for the transplant process
- Answer any questions about the procedure, the expected recovery and any associated risks, while monitoring the recipient's health afterward
- Work in the operating rooms of medical facilities, or anywhere that post-operative or recovery care is offered
Their impactful work, high salary and the abundance of job advancement opportunities make it an attractive career choice for those looking to enter the healthcare field.
Now that you’re ready to begin a rewarding career as a transplant nurse, here are some additional steps you’ll need to get to the career you want:
Earn Your Degree
The first step to becoming a transplant nurse is to earn your registered nurse (RN) license. There are several pathways to becoming an RN, including Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) programs and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. These programs will not only give you the requirement you need to start your career, but they’ll also provide you with valuable lessons, experience and connections to prepare you for your day-to-day responsibilities.
Pass the NCLEX
Passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) is required for all nurses to become licensed. This test will challenge future transplant nurses to apply what they’ve learned in nursing school and demonstrate what it means to think like a nurse. Candidates will be tested on how well they use critical-thinking skills to apply their knowledge to nursing situations and analyze what to do next. This is especially important for fast-paced positions such as transplant nursing.
Earning certifications will make you an attractive candidate for potential employers. Not only does becoming certified demonstrate your commitment to your field, but it also showcases a lifelong interest in learning and adapting to an ever-evolving field. The American Board for Transplant Certification offers four different certification exams, including:
- Certified Transplant Preservationist
- Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator
- Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse
- Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator
Gain Clinical Experience
Degrees and certifications will take you far, but future transplant nurses gain valuable insight and experience from completing the clinical experience. Not only will real-world opportunities help you to learn on your feet, but you’ll also be able to shadow experienced nurses and doctors while contributing to patient-facing care. This will also build strong soft skills, and instill the confidence you need to support yourself and future teams. While clinical requirements vary across healthcare organizations, transplant nurses should apply for positions after obtaining at least two years of related experience, including one year of hands-on organ transplant patient care.
Apply, Apply, Apply!
Now that you’re educated, experienced, motivated, and confident, it’s time to find the healthcare team that’s right for you. Ask yourself what you’re looking for in terms of workplace culture, in a supervisor, and what kind of care came most naturally during your clinicals. Explore your options by using job search services, and don’t hesitate to reach out to past classmates, professors, or coworkers to create a strong network. With the right preparation and drive, your dream job is right around the corner.
Herzing University can help you reach your goal of becoming a transplant nurse with their variety of flexible and accessible healthcare programs. What are you waiting for? Get started today.