As the need for transplants has grown, almost five fold since records were first kept, so has the role nurses play in transplant care – increasing demand for transplant nurses.
Transplant nursing is a fast growing specialty and the career outlook, especially for the field’s transplant nurse coordinators, is excellent. The demand for organ transplants is increasingly high and is expected to grow as the number of donors increase. A transplant nurse works with patients who are either recipients of organ transplants or the donors. According to Transweb, over 28,000 people get transplants in the U.S. every year. They are a standard, successful treatment for many diseases and conditions. Over half of all organ transplants done in the U.S. are kidney transplants, about a quarter are liver transplants, with the other organs making up the remaining numbers.
A transplant nurse coordinator takes this job to a slightly higher level, working as part of a team to help coordinate a transplant from either a living or deceased donor. They usually work on either the procurement side, which deals with obtaining the organs, or on the clinical side, dealing with the actual transplant and the recipient. Transplant nurse coordinators may work together with the physicians, the nurses who have been tending the patient, the patients’ families, or the hospital. They can also work with the potential recipients, evaluating them through stringent pre-transplant tests that include blood work, an electrocardiogram, endoscopy, x-rays, or ultrasounds. They can work as patient advocates, and patient educators. TNCsserve as the contact person for patients awaiting a transplant. Their roles are varied, and can focus on all aspects of transplant nursing.
Most hospitals require transplant nurses to have at least an RN; many require a BSN. Previous experience is not required, though a strong medical-surgical 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 nursing. Due to the emergence of new medications, better cross-matching for transplant recipients and the aging population, there is a steady growth in all areas of transplant nursing. The current average salary for a transplant nurse coordinator is $76,617 and it will keep increasing as the demand for the job rises.The future is definitely bright for those who want to enter the field, as there is high expected growth on demand.