As a nurse, you’re likely to come across a variety of different wounds, from minor skin abrasions to complex surgical wounds. Pursuing specialized wound care training allows you to treat a variety of different types of wounds across multiple specialties. With proper training, a nurse can learn not only how to treat wounds, but also how to educate the patient about their injury, what happened to their body, and how to prevent it from happening again.
Several different professional nursing organizations offer official wound care certification programs, which allow you to develop your assessment and treatment skills. Here’s what to know if you’re considering a wound care certification path.
What Is Wound Care Nursing?
Nursing professionals who practice wound care nursing typically treat wounds, ostomies, and/or continence conditions. These health care professionals may hold one or more wound care certifications in those specific areas.
- Wounds: Any type of wound may fall under the jurisdiction of a certified wound care nurse, but particularly complex injuries, such as lacerations, burns, and surgical wounds. They may also handle ulcers in patients with limited mobility, and chronic wounds and ulcers caused by diabetes complications.
- Ostomies: Patients who have undergone ostomy surgery require specialized care to ensure their stoma doesn’t get infected. Ostomy nurses help patients understand how to care for their condition, including changing their ostomy pouches.
- Continence conditions: A continence care nurse assists patients who experience continence issues, such as moisture-related skin damage and urinary and fecal incontinence.
Wound care nurses may work in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, long-term care facilities, and other health care settings. Some hospitals have dedicated wound management teams that offer additional services to patients, including prevention and consultations.
Why Should You Get Wound Care Training?
Wound care certification isn’t one specific certification, rather an umbrella number for the different types of them you can obtain. The more certifications you have, the more types of wounds you’ll know how to properly treat.
Having wound care training allows you to be more helpful to doctors and most importantly, allows you to provide an additional level of care for your patients. You will also have more expertise that can help inform your overall medical knowledge if you ever decide to pursue a different nursing specialty in the future.
Wound Care Training Resources
Before you can obtain a wound care certification from an accredited professional nursing organization, you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have an active nursing license. Some of these programs are exclusive to nurses, while others are open to other members of the health care team.
Keep in mind that hospitals and healthcare facilities may only recognize specific certifications, so be sure to check with your current or potential employer before signing up for a certification program.
Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB)
The WOCNCB is the most commonly recognized certifying board for nurses. The organization offers wound care accreditation in the following specialties:
- Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (CWOCN)
- Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse (CWON)
- Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN)
- Certified Ostomy Care Nurse (COCN)
- Certified Continence Care Nurse (CCCN)
- Advanced Practice certifications in the above areas
- Certified Foot Care Nurse (CFCN)
- Wound Treatment Associate-Certified (WTA-C)
There are three examinations you must take within 12 months to become certified through the traditional pathway. Through the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC), you will be granted accreditation for five years. After this five-year period, you will need to become recertified. A single certification costs $395, with discounts for pursuing multiple certifications at once.
You can also earn WOCNCB certifications through an experiential pathway. While practicing as a Registered Nurse, 50 contact hour credits or an equivalent in college work course must be completed within five years of the application. From there, the requirements change depending on which certification you’re seeking.
American Board of Wound Management (ABWM)
The ABWM is a nonprofit organization that specializes in credentialing multidisciplinary wound care certifications. Their goal is to “establish and monitor a national certification process, recognize competency, promote education and research, and elevate the standard of care across the continuum of wound management.”
You can obtain three different wound management certifications through the ABWM: Certified Wound Care Associate, Certified Wound Specialist, and Certified Wound Specialist Physician. The price for each certification varies.
To get an ABWM certification, you must be a healthcare worker with three years of experience and an unrestricted professional license. You can become board-certified through an examination, which you can schedule online at any time.
National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCCB)
The NAWCCB offers certifications in wound care, advanced wound care, diabetic wound care, nutrition wound care, ostomy, and lymphedema lower extremity. There are a few different ways you can qualify for a NAWCCB wound care certification:
- Have completed a skin and wound management education course OR have a current, active certification from the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board or the CWS from the American Board of Wound Management.
- Have completed 120 hours of clinical training with an approved preceptor OR have two years of full-time experience or four years of part-time experience in an approved profession with direct wound-care experience (e.g. management, education, or research).
The cost per certification is $300 and is awarded for a five-year period, after which you must be recertified.
Career Outlook for RNs with Wound Care Training
With an accredited wound care certification, you have the opportunity to advance your nursing career. Hospitals across the country are adding more careers in wound management prevention and have more incentive to hire people with these certifications.
According to a 2016 study by the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing Society, a wound care nurse makes $76.43 hourly on average. Your actual salary will depend on your location, certifications, and the type of medical center you work in.
While many wound care nurses work in full-time salaried roles, there are plenty of opportunities for more flexible work, including per diem nursing. Clipboard Health helps wound care nurses and other health care professionals find and book per diem shifts that fit their schedule. Visit our Professionals page to apply.