October 9, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Once an acceptable organ donor is found, the transplant team must move extremely quickly, as there is a very short window of time between harvesting the organ and transplanting. Often this window is just a matter of hours. If everything is okay and the patient is healthy enough to undergo such a complicated surgical procedure, the transplant nurse will prepare the patient for surgery as soon as possible.
The transplant nurse will also help the surgeon during the procedure. For instance, they may help assemble tools and hand them to the surgeon. They are also often responsible for monitoring a patient’s vital signs and making sure that their vitals remain stable.
Patients are most fragile during the period immediately after the transplant procedure. During this time careless, improper care could lead to a fatality.
For a transplant nurse, this could be the most stressful period as they work tirelessly to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Some of the tasks involved at this time could include treating infections, changing wound dressings, administering medications and taking care of their daily needs.
One of the gravest risks that any transplant patient will have to face is the possibility of their body not accepting the donated organs. To lower the risk, they must take anti-rejection medications for the rest of their lives. You will have to administer these injections initially and later show patients how to administer the medications themselves.
As a transplant nurse, you may choose to work in general transplant surgery or you could choose to specialise in a specific area. For instance, you could choose to work specifically with children in need of organ transplants or with cardiac patients in need of a heart transplant or kidney patients.
Choosing to specialise in transplant nursing is a decision that must be done only after careful consideration of what is involved. Not all patients have the opportunity to find a donor organ and undergo surgery on time. Death is a common occurrence and anyone planning on pursuing this specialty should be absolutely sure that they have the emotional maturity to deal with the death of their patients. Despite the high stress of this field, transplant nursing can also be one of the most rewarding nursing careers. As a transplant nurse, you will often get the chance to see well deserving patients get a new lease on life and that is something that can be tremendously rewarding.
Transplant nursing is a highly specialised and challenging field and it is crucial to start with the right education. While many transplant nurses hold a minimum bachelor’s degree in nursing, more and more employees today prefer to hire transplant nurses who have a master’s degree or a PhD. During your schooling, you should focus your studies on medical-surgical nursing and transplant nursing. Courses in intensive care and critical care are also strongly recommended.
Most transplant nurses work in hospitals and transplant facilities. Some may also work closely with surgeons and specialists in private clinics.