Become a certified wound care nurse

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Certified wound care nurses specialise in the assessment, treatment and monitoring of patients’ wounds. They help minimise suffering and loss of function and prevent potential life-threatening complications in those who are seriously wounded. In addition to direct wound care, these professionals also promote health management practices that prevent recurrence.

 

Detailed job description

Gap Medics students helping to put a patient in a cast When a patient is wounded, it is the responsibility of the certified wound care nurse to perform a careful assessment and accordingly develop an effective treatment plan. The care team then carries out the treatment plan.

Wound treatment may involve a simple cleaning and bandaging or it may involve debridement, a wound cleaning process in which dead tissue and contaminants are removed before the dressing is applied. For the more serious wounds, the certified wound care nurse may also work with the patient’s physician to assess which treatment may be most appropriate and effective.

These professionals serve as key resource persons for nurses, physicians and other members of the care team in hospitals and other inpatient settings. They also provide continuing education for CNAs or certified nursing assistants and other front-line professionals who care for patients who are bedridden, as these patients are more prone to developing complex pressure ulcers or bedsores.

 

Work setting

As a certified wound care nurse, you may work in hospitals, wound care centres, hospices, long-term care facilities, home healthcare services or with a public health agency. As emergencies are not so common in this specialty, your work would generally be restricted to daytime hours.  

In a community setting, you would educate and support diabetics, people with limited mobility, those undergoing certain cancer treatments and others who may be at risk of developing chronic wounds.

 

Education & training

To be able to practice as a certified wound care nurse, you must have a bachelor’s degree and a current valid RN licence. In addition, you would need to meet one of the following criteria: 

 

  • Completion of an accredited wound care education program 
  • Completion of 50 continuing education contact hours in wound care and 1500 clinical experience hours over the previous five. At least 375 of the clinical experience hours should be done within the year prior to applying for certification.

 

Wound care education programs typically last two to three months and include classroom instruction as well as hands-on experience. During clinical rotations, you may focus on a particular sub-specialty such as foot care or ostomy. Depending on the program, you may earn a certificate, graduate credits or continuing education units.

As a newly hired wound care nurse in a hospital or any other healthcare facility, you would usually receive on-the-job mentoring and supervision by someone more experienced. This could last from a few weeks to a few months depending on your education and experience.

 

Essential skills & attributes

As a certified wound care nurse, you must have in depth wound care knowledge in addition to a solid understanding of anatomy, physiology, patient care and general nursing concepts. As nurses in specialties are often required to make crucial care decisions, it is equally important to have assertive leadership and critical thinking skills. 

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