Nursing is a broad and diverse field. Once you become a certified nurse, you can choose to work in specific fields of medicine, grow your experience, and attain extra certifications to set up your nursing career. Wound care nursing is a dynamic sector of nursing where you can earn a higher salary compared to other standard nursing jobs.
Before diving in to how to earn advanced certifications and become a qualified wound care nurse, it’s important to understand what wound care nurses are and what they do.
What Is a Certified Wound Care Nurse?
Wound care nurses specialize in complicated and advanced injuries. These can include ulcers, burns, lacerations, and ostomies.
While wound care is the main responsibility of wound care nurses, these nurses also specialize in creating plans for medical teams, patients, and their caregivers so patients receive critical and consistent care throughout their recovery. These plans are often created while working closely with doctors and other nurses to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
There are specialized areas to pursue within the wound care nursing sector. For example, some nurses elect to specialize in working with diabetic patients or foot care.
What Does a Wound Care Nurse Do?
The main responsibilities of a wound care nurse are caring for patients and working in tandem with doctors and other nurses to create comprehensive care plans for patients and their families. Specifically, wound care nurses will have to be well versed in a variety of techniques, like debridement, cleaning, and bandaging. People skills are also essential, as wound care nurses will have to work with patients and their families.
They will also need an advanced understanding of treatment options, like surgeries and medications, in order to work with doctors to create the best care plan for a patient. Many wound care nurses elect to specialize in patients who have ostomies, diabetes, or pressure ulcers.
Where Do Wound Care Nurses Work?
Wound care nurses work in a variety of health care settings. These settings typically include operating rooms, intensive care units, critical care facilities, inpatient settings, hospice centers, nursing homes, and public health agencies.
Nurses are in high demand across the board, but wound care nurses are specifically in high demand in long-term care settings. These long-term care situations require wound care nurses to help with complications from diseases like diabetes.
What Are Their Roles and Duties?
The specific roles and duties of a wound care nurse vary depending on the health care setting. Typically, responsibilities will include:
- The assessment, treatment, and monitoring of wounds.
- Debriding, cleaning, and rebandaging wounds.
- Educating patients and caregivers on wound care.
- Understanding infection, injury prevention, pressure ulcer care, and injury prevention for patients who are bedridden or have limited mobility.
- Collaboration with doctors, nurses, and other care teams to determine treatment options.
- Understanding treatment options — like surgery, antibiotics, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy — and recommending specific treatment options where appropriate.
- Supervising and completing documentation related to Medicare reimbursement.
- Write orders and procedures to promote wound healing and prevent further injury.
What Are the Education Requirements?
To become a wound care nurse, you’ll need to earn at least a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree or higher. The certified Wound Care Nursing certification includes a BSN stipulation, which means it’s a required component of the overall certification. Interested nurses must also hold an active RN license. Most health care employers like wound care nurses to hold prior professional nursing experience as well.
What Is A Wound Care Nurse’s Salary?
Typically, wound care nurses earn more per year than standard nurses. In fact, certified nurses often earn an average of $9,000 more per year compared to standard nurses. For wound care nurses, the median salary is $64,076. The typical salary range for a wound care nurse is between $41,701 and $83,160.
How to Get Your Wound Care Nursing Certification
If you’re interested in becoming a wound care nurse, there are a few steps you can take to reach your goal. The overall philosophy, however, should be to pursue nursing in general and then choose a specialization. Because nursing is such a broad field, the first step toward any specialty is first earning an RN and becoming a reliable, successful nurse. As you get a taste for different types of care and different patient treatment facilities, you’ll be able to narrow down exactly what it is you want to do. For wound care nursing candidates, this is the typical nursing path to follow.
1. Earn your BSN
Wound care nursing certifications and exams require nursing candidates to hold a BSN in order to obtain certification. Not all areas of nursing require this type of degree. A BSN is a four-year nursing degree that requires advanced schooling compared to other nursing education programs. By earning your BSN, you’re taking your first step toward not only becoming a wound care nurse but a well-qualified, professional nurse.
2. Earn Nursing Experience
Many hospitals and care facilities are looking for wound care nurses who have prior nursing and hospital experience. While it is possible to go right from school into wound care nursing certifications, working for a while in the nursing field will show your commitment to learning about the field as a whole and picking a specialty that matches your unique qualities and skill set. You can also use this opportunity to work with wound care nurses and determine if it’s the right path for you.
3. Attend an Approved Wound Care Certification Program
The two routes to earning your wound care nursing certifications are program-based experience and working-based experience. Board approved certification programs provide interested nurses with hands-on training so they can gain valuable experience, pass certifications exams, and provide patients with high-level care. Experienced-based certifications allow interested nurses to take certification exams without a program-based educational component. Instead, these nurses rely on past experience and self-teaching to earn the certification. Regardless of the route, you decide to take, all wound care nurses need to pass a certification exam.
Information about certification programs and exams can be found in the following resources:
- The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB)
- The Wound Care Certification (WCC)
- The American Board of Wound Management (ABWM)
4. Pass the Wound Care Certification Exam
Once you pass the certification exam, you’ll be qualified to practice as a wound care nurse. You’ll also be able to start applying for open positions at local hospitals and other health care facilities.
Nursing is a broad and diverse field. By specializing in one area, you can increase your salary and expand into a growing field within nursing. For certified and prospective wound care nurses, you can find shifts and other nursing schedule information at local hospitals and health care facilities through Clipboard Health.