Wound Care Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
A wound care nurse is a specialized nursing position that is designed specifically to heal patient’s wounds. The nurse who specializes in wound care has a nursing degree and is a certified nurse with a specialization in caring for patients with injuries.
As a wound care specialist you will have many of the following roles and responsibilities:
- Stage a patient’s wound
- Provide wound treatment
- Assess wounds
- Work with doctors to provide medication
- Educate patients on wound care
Nurses who are proficient in caring for wounds may work with trauma or emergency situations and may work with all types of wounds including gunshots, cuts, and scrapes. The nurse may need to take photos of the wound and assist the doctor in determining a treatment plan. Nursing professionals must have good attention to detail, good communication skills, and must be able to provide gentle care in a calm and soothing manner.
How to Become a Wound Care Nurse
Anyone who is interested in becoming specialized in wound care will need to become a certified nurse and should have at least 5 years experience in wound care. Nurses should first attain a nursing degree through a good nursing school or university. After graduating with a nursing degree you must take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse in your state. Gain some work experience by taking an entry level nursing position in the area of wound care, possibly at a hospital or clinic.
Wound Care Nursing Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
The aspiring nurse should complete an educational program in nursing. A two-year nursing program will provide you with an Associate’s Degree in nursing (ADN) while a four-year program offers you a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN). Both offer good programs, however, when striving to become a specialty nurse you will be better off choosing the BSN option. Students should take undergraduate courses that prepare them for wound care as a specialty. Additionally, nurses may opt to go on to attain a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty in wound care. Nurses will need to gain as much experience as possible before entering a MSN program.
Wound-care certification is awarded through the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB) as well as the National Alliance of Wound Care (NAWC). Both agencies offer different levels of certification for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Registered Nurses (RN) and nurses with higher degrees. Each has their own requirements. Testing focuses on general wound-care principles such as assessment, cleansing procedures, drainage, cauterization and infection control among others. Several certification options are available including the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse (WOCN) through the WOCNCB and Wound Care Certified (WCC) through NAWC. Both these professional organizations offer nurses support, educational resources, and information about wound care. Certification is not required to work in these areas, but it is highly recommended.
Wound Care Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The career outlook for all nurses is expected to climb in the coming years. There is going to be a high demand for trained nurses and particularly for nurses with specialties such as wound care. By some estimates, the need for nurses will go up by as much as 22% over the next ten years. Nurses with the highest level of education can expect to receive top salaries. The salary for a nurse with a specialty in wound care may range from $52,000 to $65,000. Those nursing professionals with the most experience and training will expect to get the high end of the pay scale. Those with MSN degrees may expect to exceed $75,000 annually.