What Is Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing (WOCN)?
Wound ostomy continence nursing is a very specific area of nursing that involves specific knowledge in a very narrow field. To be specific, a nurse with a qualification in wound ostomy continence nursing will treat patients that have:
- A specific disorder of the skin
- A specific disorder of the gastrointestinal tracts
- A specific disorder of the urinary tracts
An ostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an artificial opening for the elimination of bodily waste. Certification in wound ostomy continence nursing gives nurses the ability to treat ostomy patients, but also wounds and incontinence care, opening up your opportunities in terms of employment and success in the field of nursing. A specialty of any kind can achieve this, but wound ostomy continence nursing provides a broad base of skills.
Nature Of The Work/duties
The following are some of the basic job duties that you will be expected to perform on a daily basis:
- Treat and assess wounds (including conditions, bedsores, abscesses, wounds from feeding tubes, and surgical incisions)
- Work with patients who have bowl and bladder problems
- Record vital signs
- Track patient progress
- Educate the patient on home care
- Speak with family members about treatment options
- Engage in pain management
- Continuously look for infection so it can be treated as quickly as possible
Some of these duties are common to a number of nursing specialties while others are highly specific to this particular line of nursing. These skills can be learned and will be covered in training.
As a wound ostomy continence nurse you will have a very narrow area in which you can be employed. However you will also have the skills of an ordinary nurse and will therefore be able to seek employment in areas of nursing that do not require a specialization. There are also future employment opportunities that this line of nursing may make you interested in. For example you can also consider becoming a legal nurse consultant after you’ve gained experience in this field, as many cases deal with allegations of nursing home abuse evident by bedsores, wounds that are the result of assault, and more. There are a number of opportunities for nurses in this line of work to be employed in several different settings, and it is therefore a nursing specialty that is worth your time and effort.
Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing (WOCN) Requirements
There are two routes that you can take in order to become a wound ostomy continence nurse. If you choose to take the route that has a heavy focus on experience rather than on education, the following requirements must be met.:
- You must obtain 50 contact hours within a five-year period in wound care AND/OR
- You must obtain 50 contact hours within a five-year period in ostomy ND/OR
- You must obtain 50 contact hours within a five-year period in continence
- You must obtain 1,500 clinical hours during the same time frame
- 375 of those hours must be completed in the 12 months prior to submitting the application
Clearly you have to be a licensed nurse in order to achieve the hours of clinical experience necessary to enter the arena of wound ostomy continence nursing.
To be a wound ostomy continence nurse you need to be an RN. To be an RN the following personality traits are essential and extremely helpful in ensuring that you do the best job possible:
- A sense of humor: This will keep you positive as well as ensuring that your patients have a bright outlook on life.
- A sense of deeper understanding to life
- A sense of hope for what to others may seem hopeless
- The ability to never say never
- A sense of pride in saying “I’m a nurse”: If this is not a strong calling for you and if you do not believe that being a nurse is worthwhile, then this is not the line of work that you are best suited for.
If you choose to take the educational path to becoming a wound ostomy continence nurse you will have to meet the following educational requirements:
- You must be a licensed registered nurse (RN) with a baccalaureate degree (the degree may be in nursing or in another area).
- You must complete a program accredited by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN).
- You must pass an exam in wound ostomy continence nursing within the next five years after completion of the program.
In order to get into either an RN degree program or a wound ostomy continence nursing program you will need to hold a high school diploma. In many cases you may be required to pass a basic skills test before entry into a degree program in nursing will be granted.
In order to become a wound ostomy continence nurse you have to have an RN license. To get an RN license you will first have to complete a training program in nursing. This can result in a diploma or a degree in nursing. The program must be accredited with your state board of nursing. Once you have completed the program you will be in a position to apply for licensure from your state board of nursing. If your application is confirmed and you are deemed eligible you can set a date to take the NCLEX-RN examination. A pass on this examination, which is multiple choice and lasts for five hours, will earn you your RN license. This license must be renewed regularly in order to remain valid as well as to remain current, both of which are requirements to enter a wound ostomy continence nursing program.
How To Become A Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (WOCN)
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
In order to become certified as a wound ostomy continence nurse you must graduate from a WOCNCB-accredited educational program. This is a training program aimed at preparing you for a career in wound ostomy continence nursing. The following characteristics are true of these training programs:
- They involve post-bachelor’s studies
- You will study foundational courses in wound and ostomy care
- A clinical program is included which lasts for about 120 hours
- The training program results in a graduate diploma
As you will need a current RN license in order to become certified in this aspect of nursing you will also need to firstly undergo the training that is required to become a registered nurse and you will then need to pass the relevant registered nursing licensure examination, also known as the NCLEX-RN.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is essential that the program through which you do your wound ostomy continence nursing training is one that is properly accredited by the relevant bodies. If it is not you will essentially be wasting your time and your money on the program as your qualification will not be taken seriously in the profession of nursing and you will be required to begin a new program from the beginning. In order to find an accredited program you should contact your state board of nursing for information on that front. In addition you can find a great many accredited schools that offer a qualification in wound ostomy continence nursing here. There are a number of schools available through which you can become qualified in this particular area of nursing.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Although an associate’s degree can be helpful in helping you enter the health care industry in general as a nurse, you will need a bachelor’s degree in order to become a wound ostomy continence nurse. This is the minimum requirement. There are a number of schools, universities, and colleges, as well as a few nursing facilities, that offer associate’s degrees in nursing. These degrees can be earned in a classroom situation or through a combination of online training and a face-to-face tuition method in a clinical setting. The degree will take about 4 years to earn which means that you will need to know ahead of time whether or not devoting that much time to a training program is something that you will in fact be in a position to do.
Obtain Your Licensure
You have to hold a nursing license in order to become certified as a wound ostomy continence nurse. Certification by writing an exam on a focus in wound ostomy continence nursing can be achieved through two distinct pathways:
- Education: the first way is to complete an accredited education program in wound ostomy continence nursing.
- Experience: The second is to gain the appropriate experience
Online/Distance Education Programs
Wound and Ostomy Care Nurse (WOCN) certification can be done entirely online from a number of accredited and well respected nursing schools and colleges. This is convenient way for you to complete your studies without having to give up your job in the process. Be careful when looking into these programs as some of them do require that you go in to the campus on a regular basis.
Your RN qualification, on the other hand, can only be done partially online. The course is divided in a theoretical and practical side, and the practical side cannot be done online. You will need to source a health care facility in your area where you will be able to complete your clinical hands-on training successfully. This training is compulsory if you want to receive your qualification as a licensed RN practitioner.
Wound ostomy continence nursing has an extremely positive job outlook indeed. Like all of the nursing careers jobs in this particular niche of nursing are expected to increase by 22% between the years 2008 and 2018. This is far higher than what we expect to see in most other industries. Hence this is a line of work that has a firm promise of job stability and in which, if you are qualified, you will always be able to find employment in a good location that matches your needs and personality. In addition you will also have the opportunity to work as a general registered nurse in a general health care setting as this training is a prerequisite for becoming a nurse that has a specialty in wound ostomy continence nursing.
Your level of experience will affect the salary that you will earn as a wound ostomy continence nurse. On average you can expect to earn something like $55,986 to $74,685 a year as a nurse with a specialty in this area. However it is important to note that the actual salary you will earn can be affected to quite a large degree by the state in which you work and live. In addition different cities within the same state often offer different rates. A wound ostomy continence nurse has the opportunity to earn, on average, a little more than an average registered nurse in a normal hospital setting. An average RN earns something in the region of $52,980 to $79,020. The difference is not enormous, but it is enough to make the specialty attractive.
This is a very specialized area of nursing and a nurse who chooses to work in wound ostomy continence nursing will need to have a strong stomach for bodily fluids as the discharge of such fluids will form a large part of your job. Because it is a niche industry your specific skills will mean that you a rein high demand. However it may also mean that your employment opportunities may not be as wide and broad as the employment opportunities that many other nurses with alternative specialization qualifications have. A number of factors need to be considered before choosing this as your specialty in nursing, and it is not a decision to be made lightly as it will inform the rest of your career.