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.
Some of the duties carried out by wound care nurses include the following:
Wound care nurses typically care for patients in the following settings:
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.
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.
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.
Four separate certifications are offered by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. They are as follows:
For each separate certification candidates must:
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.
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.
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.