What Does a Wound Care Nurse Do?
Wound care nurses, sometimes referred to as wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) nurses, specialize in wound management, the monitoring and treatment of wounds due to injury, disease or medical treatments. Their work promotes the safe and rapid healing of a wide variety of wounds, from chronic bed sores or ulcers to abscesses, feeding tube sites and recent surgical openings. The majority of wound care nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes or travel to patients’ homes as home health workers. Their main objectives are to assess the wounds, develop a treatment plan, clean wounds and monitor for signs of infection. If the wounds become worse, the nurses must be able to recognize symptoms that could require surgical debridement or surgical drains. Wound care nurses also work with patients and other care givers to educate them on wound prevention. For example, they could inform nursing home attendants of proper ways to avoid bed sores in elderly patients. Wound care nurses must be able to handle patients’ wound delicately, effectively and with respect.
How Can I Become a Wound Care Nurse?
Certification in wound care can be earned through three organizations: the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB), the National Alliance of Wound Care (NAWC)and the American Academy of Wound Management (AAWM). The WOCNCB, NAWC and AAWM require candidates to be registered nurses, which can be achieved by earning a two or four year nursing degree and passing the national licensing exam. The organizations also require candidates to have either current experience in wound care nursing or have successfully completed an approved wound care educational program. If these requirements are satisfied, a candidate is eligible to sit for the certification exam. Exams are traditionally computer based, multiple choice exams that can take several hours to complete. In order to maintain the certification once it has been earned, the certifying authorities often require nurses to take a set number of continued education classes. This ensure the medical professionals are current with the latest wound care treatments and information.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Wound Care Nurse?
The average salary for regular registered nurses is around $62,000 per year. Nurses with specialized training and certifications, like wound care nurses, generally earn more than this. One of the greatest drawbacks to working as a wound care nurse is the various unpleasant tasks associated with the job. The sight and smell of an infected or untreated wound can be very hard to cope with even for seasoned medical professionals. Benefits of working as a wound care nurse include using one’s medical expertise and experience to improve the lives of their patients. The overall employment outlook for nursing in general is expected to be positive over the next several years. Nursing is one of the few industries that is steadily growing in the Unites States. Also, a nurse that provides more specialized medical care can expect to be more highly recruited by facilities and to receive a higher annual salary.