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Getting on to a transplant team


What is the best way to for a new nurse to work toward being part of the OR transplant team? We have a few hospitals in the area that do transplants and I would really like to be in the OR. Should I try to work on the transplant floor and then go to the OR? Would it be better to try to get OR experience first and then try to get on with a transplant team? I just don't even know where to start or who to ask about this goal.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

Actually, both would probably benefit you. With working on a transplant floor, you'll see the effects of giving someone a healthy organ and learn a lot about pathophysiology. "Regular" OR experience would get you familiar with sterile technique, instrumentation, and basic procedures such as laparotomy and mediansternotomy that would transfer to the transplant team. I wouldn't recommend going directly onto the transplant team. I think OR nurses should be more well rounded and at least spend a month in each specialty before committing to a single area. Just my :twocents:

I am an OR nurse at a hospital that does kidney, liver, and pancreas transplants. Our general surg team usually does most of the kidney transplants but we have a specific group of people who are on the Liver Transplant team and are the only ones permitted to scrub in on these cases. I am a member of the liver team and if you are really interested in being in the OR for these cases I would start by working in the OR. I have never worked on any other unit. At our facility you have to have at least 1 year of experience in the OR to be considered for the Liver Transplant team and typically a fair amount of experience scrubbing in on large general surgery cases (like....liver resections, splenectomies, whipples, kidney transplants etc. etc.). I've been a nurse in the OR for about 2 1/2 years and on the liver team for just over a year now. I absolutely love it and I'm glad to hear you are interested in transplant. I think it is such a wonderful gift and they are by far my favorite surgeries. Good luck with whatever you decide to do! :)


Specializes in Operating Room (and a bit of med/surg). Has 4 years experience.

I second what BlueEyedNursey said. You need OR experience to be on the transplant team. At our hospital, we only do kidney transplants, so we don't have a transplant team of any sort since most people can scrub those. But the only way you're going to get on a transplant team is to get OR experience. So go for it!!

Just sign up for nights and you will get plenty of scrubbing (at least thats what it seems like).

Kidneys and KPs are done by general surgery.

Livers are done by the liver team, but since most of them are done between 7p and 7a the night crew usually handles them.

Hearts and Lungs are handled by the CV team.

Hand and Face - not sure but they are developing a team for that.

The issue is that the liver team nurses rarely get to scrub unless two of them are there then one will scrub while the other circulates. Most of the scrubbing here is done by the techs.

David Carpenter, PA-C

After being in an OR internship for 6 months, I went on the 11-9 shift where we do a bit of everything. A little after a month I was asked if I wanted to join the liver transplant team. I was trained to scrub and circulate. We do liver call, so it is on top of my regular shift. Most of transplants except kidneys are done by a call team. My best advice would be to talk to the transplant manager or heart/thoracic manger and let them know of your interest. Also, if you're interested in livers, request to be assigned to kidney transplants. You'll get better acquainted with the doctors, sutures, and some instruments. Probably the same goes for hearts and lungs.

Aneroo, LPN

Specializes in Cath Lab, OR, CPHN/SN, ER.

Great question! I'm interested in this also (one of those things that evolves into something you're passionate about). For me, it's organ donation- my sister is alive b/c of a K/P transplant. Her quality of live has greatly improved!

I've checked into the job opening with our start organ procurement agency, and it asks for OR experience, not floor experience. While it would be nice to know what will happen with the patients before and after surgery, my understanding is that the OR experience is the important part for the transplant team.

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