Two phases of the organ transplantation process require the services of a transplant coordinator: organ procurement and clinical recipient care. A procurement transplant coordinator works to promote organ donation by educating both the public and health care workers and by developing donor programs. He or she may locate and evaluate potential donors and counsel their families concerning organ donation. In addition, the procurement transplant coordinator may work in organ distribution, deciding which potential recipients are the best matches for donor organs.
Clinical transplant coordinators assist the transplantation process by evaluating potential donors and recipients, educating them and their families and coordinating the after-care that follows transplantation. It is the responsibility of a clinical transplant coordinator to ensure the continued physical and emotional well-being of transplant recipients after their procedure, and to provide continuing practical education and counseling for them and their loved ones. Some transplant coordinators may work specifically to procure or facilitate the transplantation of one particular organ, such as the heart or kidney, and with patients waiting for these organs.
No specific educational programs exist for training transplant coordinators, but a background in nursing or in science is recommended. Physician’s assistants or individuals with master’s degrees in public health or business administration may find work in the field. Degrees in psychology or social work are helpful for the counseling aspects of the job.
The American Board of Transplant Coordinators provides voluntary certification. Transplant coordinators who have passed the certification exam and who have worked in the field for a minimum of one year are eligible for the credential of Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator (CPTC) or Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator (CCTC). The designation of Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN) or Certified Transplant Preservationist (CTP) is awarded to transplant nurses or coordinators who are qualified and have passed the examination that ensures a standard of competence in their field.
Transplant centers and agencies may be independent or affiliated with hospitals or universities. Not surprisingly, the demand for donated organs far exceeds the supply. Transplant coordinators must overcome fear, ignorance and certain prejudices in order to secure more organ donors.
There is considerable job turnover among procurement transplant coordinators because the hours are long and irregular, and the stress level is high. Some procurement coordinators remain on the job less than 18 months before burning out and moving on to less demanding positions. These vacancies, as unfortunate as they are, provide employment opportunities for others looking for work in the field of transplant coordination.