A wound ostomy-continence nurse (WOCNs) cares for patients who have active wounds or the potential to develop wounds. They also care for patients who have ostomies. Wounds may be surgical in nature or may be the result of skin breakdown, disease or injury. A wound ostomy nurse’s job is to make sure wounds don’t become infected and that they heal properly.
In order to become a wound ostomy-continence nurse, a student must first complete a four-year Bachelor of Science nursing program or a Master’s of Science nursing program. Afterwards they must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). It would benefit a nurse to work on a med/surg unit for a year or two to become familiar with different types of wounds. Afterwards a nurse can apply for an entry-level position as a wound ostomy-continence nurse and train under an expert.
Becoming certified demonstrates expertise and differentiates between an entry level wound ostomy nurse and an expert. Certification provides more job opportunities for nurses as is assures employers of the nurse’s knowledge and skills. Nurses must be recertified every five years to maintain certification.
Wound ostomy nurses work as part of a healthcare team: a doctor who approves orders of a WOCN, a dietician, who makes sure the patients are receiving the right nutrients in their diet to heal, and a social worker who makes sure patients receive resources they need at home for their wounds. This team of healthcare providers give patients the best possible care.They care for patients who have acute or chronic wounds. WOCNs collaborate with physicians about wound care and write orders for nurses to follow. Wound ostomy nurses work in hospitals, clinics and in home care. They are used as resources for nurses who have patients with challenging wounds and are often requested for patient consultations.
The job outlook for wound ostomy-continence nurse is very good as people are living longer in the United States and need more health care. Wound ostomy nurses earn approximately 90,000 annually, depending on experience and geographical location.
Job Duties of Wound Ostomy Nurses:
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