How To Become a Transplant Nurse (With Requirements)

Nurses are expected to meet certain requirements and criteria to become transplant nurses. Explore transplant nursing careers and learn about salaries and nursing specialty programs.

Transplant nurses must become a licensed registered nurse with either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. It is important to have clinical study and experience in medical-surgical nursing and critical-care/intensive care nursing.

Q&A -Transplant Nurse

How to become a transplant nurse

Here is a list of steps to becoming a transplant nurse:

1. Earn a college degree

One of the first steps to becoming a transplant nurse is to earn a degree in nursing from an accredited college or university. To become a transplant nurse, most employers require you to possess at least an associate degree, but many prefer you to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An associate program typically takes two years to complete and a bachelors degree takes at least four.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a transplant nurse, consider taking medical-surgical courses and seek additional training in intensive and critical care settings as you work toward your degree. Other coursework may include emergency care, nursing ethics, microbiology, clinical theory, anatomy and physiology.

2 Consider higher-level degrees

Depending on your career goals, you may also choose to pursue a masters degree or doctorate in nursing. While its possible to become a transplant nurse with an associate or bachelors degree, additional education may improve your knowledge of general nursing and grow in the field. It may also help you qualify for an advanced or competitive position.

3. Complete clinical rotations

Completing clinical rotations as part of your coursework can be a good way to learn more about the realities of nursing. While the time requirements of your rotations may vary depending on the degree youre pursuing, clinical rotations can be an important step in your nursing education. Rotations may allow you to gain hands-on experience in hospital settings, grow your network and prepare you for a career in the field.

Typically, clinical rotations let you shadow nurses, practice important skills in patient care and expose yourself to different nursing specialties. The skills you learn here may help you in your nursing career.

4. Become certified in basic life support

Many hospitals require you to complete life support training as part of your nursing education. Associations like the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association typically offer basic life support training at local community centers like schools, hospitals and libraries. If you choose to become a transplant nurse, this training can prepare you to perform life-saving measures like cardiopulmonary resurrections (CPR)

You might take a course in advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) as well. ACLS training can be more in-depth than basic life support training and prepare you for situations you may encounter as a transplant nurse.

5. Pass the licensure examination in your state

Once youve completed your associate or BSN degree program, you are eligible for the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN is a national exam for nurses that covers important topics in patient care and nursing practices. To become an RN, candidates must pass the exam in their state.

6. Gain experience in the field

Before you can pursue a specialized nursing track, many employers prefer you to have general nursing experience. As you work toward becoming a transplant nurse, consider positions in other areas of the hospital. Keep the skills of a transplant nurse in mind as you gain experience in the field. Roles that expose you to surgical settings, in-patient care and post-operative care may help you qualify for a future position assisting in organ and tissue transplants.

Working in the field can also be a good way to expand your network. Colleagues may provide references or assist you when you are ready to apply for a position as a transplant nurse.

7. Develop relevant skills

Transplant nurses perform a variety of tasks that can require additional knowledge. Developing specific skills related to transplant nursing can help elevate your performance and prepare you for an eventual career in the field. Here are some skills you can consider focusing on if you want to become a transplant nurse:

8. Consider additional certifications to advance your career

While not required, some employers may prefer you take the American Board for Transplant Certification exam to become a certified clinical transplant nurse. The test is available to RNs looking to advance their career as transplant nurses. To take the exam, the board requires you to be an RN with at least two years of general experience and a year working with organ transplant patients.

9. Explore transplant nursing societies

Joining societies and associations for transplant nurses can be a good way to establish yourself in the field, find employment opportunities and learn more about working as a transplant nurse. Membership may help you meet other nurses in this specialty. These connections may answer questions about working as a transplant nurse. Attending conferences, webinars and social events may help you network and advance your career.

What is a transplant nurse?

A transplant nurse may assist in any stage of the organ and tissue donation process. Their duties often include:

FAQs about being a transplant nurse

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about transplant nursing:

What are the benefits of being a transplant nurse?

Working in transplant nursing can be a very rewarding and lucrative career. Some benefits include:

What is the work environment for transplant nurses?

While rewarding, nursing can be a demanding occupation. Your work hours will depend on your employer and specific situation. Typically, nurses can work part time, full time, as needed or on-call. Some shifts last up to 12 hours. Transplant nurses may work in hospitals, specialized organ transplant facilities and ambulatory surgical units.

How is a transplant nurse different from other types of nurses?

Transplant nursing is a highly specialized career path. In addition to typical nursing duties such as taking vitals and keeping records, transplant nurses also assist doctors with transplant surgeries. Since transplant nursing typically requires additional education and certifications, the pay is often higher than non-specialized types of nursing.

What types of transplants are performed?

Hospitals may ask transplant nurses to assist in a variety of transplant procedures for organs or tissues. Organ transplants may include the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach and intestine. Tissue transplants could include cornea, bone, tendon, skin, pancreas islets, nerves, veins and heart valves.


Is transplant nursing hard?

The road to becoming a transplant nurse can seem challenging, but it comes with its rewards. Many patients and donors feel scared or anxious about organ transplant surgeries, and these nurses do the vital work of educating them and helping them recover after surgery.

What does a transplant nurse do?

A transplant nurse is the member of the transplant team that works closest with the recipient of organ donations. Also referred to as a transplant nurse coordinator, this specialized position is responsible for coordinating a patient’s care through every step of the transplantation process.

What is a transplant nurse called?

Transplant Nursing Coordinator. A transplant nurse works with patients who are either recipients of organ transplants or the donors. 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.

How do I become a transplant?

First, transplant surgeons need to get a bachelor’s degree and a diploma from medical school. They complete a general residency just like any other prospective doctor, but then they need to complete an additional three years of a transplant surgery fellowship. Only then can they become certified transplant surgeons.

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