What Is an Organ Procurement Coordinator?

Simply put, an organ procurement coordinator handles the entire process of organ transplants, communicating and coordinating between the donor/donor's family, recipient, and doctors from beginning to end. The coordinator initiates the transplant process quickly and efficiently, referring the recipient to the hospital where the transplant surgery is to be performed, and evaluating and screening the intended donor. Once these tasks are completed, the coordinator provides assistance during organ recovery, transportation, and follow up post-transfer. While organ procurement coordinators tend to work in a hospital setting, a large amount of travel can be necessary as they often assist in the physical transportation of the organs.

Becoming an Organ Procurement Coordinator

Organ procurement coordinators work for Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO). There are 58 in the US and each state has at least one, with larger states having more than one. While not every OPO hires only RNs for this role, those who are RNs may have an easier time getting their resumes noticed. Nurses with ICU and ED experience are often preferred due to the clinical aspects of managing the organ donor while in the ICU on mechanical ventilation.

What Are the Education Requirements for Organ Procurement Coordinators?

Many organ procurement coordinators are registered nurses with an extensive surgical background. An Associate's Degree in Nursing is acceptable for this role but a Bachelor's degree is usually preferred. While there's no specific degree for this specialty, there are often applicable nursing elective courses that one can take to prepare for this career, including transplant surgery and case management. Upon completion of a nursing degree, graduates must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to gain their RN license.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

The certification for the organ procurement coordinator is the Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator (CPTC) certification. Only one study guide is available for the CPTC exam which explains in detail how the job works and why coordinators do what they do. The CPTC exam can be taken by those who have worked a minimum of 12 months as a transplant coordinator or preservationist.

Where Do Organ Procurement Coordinators Work?

Organ procurement coordinators are typically employed by non-profit Organ Procurement Organizations, and can often work in an office setting when completing paperwork and other tasks. A big part of the organ procurement coordinator’s job takes place in a hospital setting, however, as they coordinate between donors, recipients, and doctors. A large amount of travel can be necessary as coordinators often assist in the physical transportation of the organs, so they need to stay up-to-date on travel procedures.

What Does an Organ Procurement Coordinator Do?

The organ procurement coordinator, or organ recovery coordinator, works with patients, families, and hospitals to make organ donation happen. When a patient in the ICU or ED meets criteria set by Medicare, this nurse is notified and speaks with the bedside nurse to determine any potential for organ donation. If the patient deteriorates and meets criteria for organ donation, the organ procurement coordinator speaks to the family about permission to donate. If the family wishes to donate, the coordinator works to maximize the potential for a successful transplant by stabilizing the patient hemodynamically, and adding certain medications which are utilized by transplant surgeons to promote a successful graft for the recipient.

A special part of the coordinator's job is to work closely with families to ease the burden of their loss by offering the gift of organ donation. Many families feel a sense of relief in the midst of their pain by being able to give life through organ donation.

What Are the Roles and Duties of an Organ Procurement Coordinator?

  • Provide support and education to families of deceased potential donors regarding the donation process
  • Complete the clinical activities that are necessary to ensure organs remain viable for donation, including tracking the deceased patient to the morgue after surgery and supervising the donor body until surgeons arrive
  • Create list of matching recipients once a donor is identified
  • Communicate and work with doctors, surgeons, nurses and others throughout the transplant process

Organ Procurement Coordinator Salary & Employment

The average salary of an organ procurement coordinator is $62,475 with a range of $46,164 – $92,954. However, most coordinators earn much more than this with the culmination of overtime pay and night differentials which are often required.

The job outlook for organ procurement coordinators remains good, as organ transplants continue to be a necessity for many medical ailments. There is also a high need to find more viable donors; something an organ procurement coordinator often has a hand in. The turnover in this job can be high due to long and irregular hours, meaning that openings are often available for those wanting to try their hand at this important career.

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