Wound Care Nurse

What Is a Wound Care Nurse?

Wound, ostomy, or continence and foot care nurses (WOC nurses) are nursing professionals who specialize in treating patients with wounds like burns, pressure ulcers, diabetic/arterial ulcers, and more. It should be noted that in addition to treating more superficial wounds affecting the epidermal and dermal layers, wound care nurses can also be certified to care for ostomies (bowel or bladder diversion) and continence issues (bladder and bowel control). Wound care nurses are frequently consulted with during a patient's stay in the hospital whenever a pressure ulcer (bedsore) or some other kind of wound is discovered by the healthcare staff. These nurses assess, monitor, and treat the patient's wounds, and educate the patient and their loved ones on how to properly care for the wound upon being discharged from the hospital.

What Are Some Wound Care Nurse Duties?

Some of the duties carried out by wound care nurses include the following:

  • Assess, treat, and monitor patients with wounds and injuries
  • Evaluate wounds and other injuries for infections and other complications
  • Debride, disinfect, and bandage wounds
  • Obtain cultures to properly assess wounds and other injuries
  • Work with others in the interdisciplinary healthcare team to see if hyperbaric oxygen therapy, surgery, or a course of antibiotics is needed
  • Ensure area of wound care is sanitized, neat, and hygienic
  • Educate and counsel patients and their loved ones on wound care, infection prevention, and pressure ulcer care/prevention for individuals with limited mobility
  • Demonstrate wound care protocol to other kinds of caregivers and healthcare professionals
  • Might work in a specialized capacity to care for diabetic foot care and ostomies
  • Coordinate with rehab, nutritional, and traumatic nurses to treat patients with wounds effectively

Where Do Wound Care Nurses Work?

Wound care nurses typically care for patients in the following settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Home health
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Hospice
  • Wound care facilities
  • Various inpatient settings
  • Nursing homes
  • Community health centers
  • Public health agencies

How to Become a Wound Care Nurse

It's important for aspiring wound care nurses to have an excellent bedside manner. Working in critical care or medical-surgical nursing can be very helpful to those who would like to eventually go into wound care nursing. It isn't common for newly graduated RNs to be directly placed into wound care nursing.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Like many other nursing specialties, to become a wound care nurse you'll first need to obtain an Associate's Degree (ADN) or Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited university or college. Once the NCLEX-RN has been passed and licensure has been secured, your main task should be to gain some clinical experience as an RN, preferably in the critical care or medical-surgical nursing sectors. Lastly, you'll need to acquire a certain number of hours of continuing education before you can become certified as a wound care specialist.

Do Wound Care Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Wound care nurses will need to hold an unencumbered RN license and have some experience in the field in order to obtain a credential as a Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN). An ADN, at minimum, will be required for the specialty.

Step 2: Required Wound Care Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Four separate certifications are offered by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. They are as follows:

  • Certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse (CWOCN)
  • Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN)
  • Certified Ostomy Care Nurse (COCN)
  • Certified Continence Care Nurse (CCCN)
  • Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse (CWON)

For each separate certification candidates must:

  • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
  • Hold a BSN degree or higher
  • Have completed ONE of the following:
    • Graduated from an accredited WOC (or WCET International) Nursing Education within the previous five years
    • Completed 50 continuing education (CE) credits in coursework which directly applies to the specialty area in the previous five years before applying for certification
    • 1,500 hours of direct clinical experience in the previous five years with 375 of those hours having occurred in the previous year

It's quite possible that eligibility for the separate certifications will change from year to year, so it would be smart to carefully examine each certification prior to applying.

Wound Care Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

High demand for specialized nursing professionals like wound care nurses will persist as the baby boomer generation continues to age and more of them require extended medical care. As per the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN), not only are hospitals and other healthcare facilities in need of trained professionals, but they're in desperate need of nursing experts who can treat chronic age-related wounds as well as skincare issues.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Excellent interpersonal communication abilities, ability to work with hands, being a ‘people person', ability to work independently, capacity to make decisions quickly, tenacity, and lifelong learning
  • Job Outlook - The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment rates for registered nurses will rise by 16% between 2014 and 2024. It's reasonable to infer that the growth rate for wound care nurses would also match this figure

What Is the Average Salary of a Wound Care Nurse?

According to PayScale, the average yearly rate of pay for wound care nurses is around $67,663. The amount that a wound care nurse can earn will be determined by a range of factors, like city and state of employment, organization, educational credentials, and years of experience in the field. Wound care nurses will also enjoy employment benefits packages that generally will include things like medical, vision, dental, and prescription insurance coverage. Some may even have the chance to opt for life insurance policies. Some annual time off is also common for most fully employed wound care nurses - generally around two to four weeks.

How Much Do Wound Care Nurses Make per Year?

  • $49,000 – $94,000 annually

How Much Do Wound Care Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $28.58 average hourly wage

Wound Care Nurse Resources