What is Ostomy Nursing?

What is Wound Ostomy Nursing?

Ostomy nursing is part of a broader specialization of nurses within the wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) care. These nurses provide treatment for patients with disorders of the digestive, urinary, and skin systems. Part of the role is to assist in the care of ostomies, wounds, stomas, and incontinence.

What Does a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) care Nurse Do?

A WOC nurse will frequently work with patients who have active open wounds. Those wounds may have resulted from surgical ostomy creation, which may be permanent or temporary as a result of a number of health conditions. Some of those illnesses include cancer of the bowels or reproductive organs, diverticulitis, trauma, volvulus, necrotic bowel, or as a result of radiation treatments.

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Because of the exposure of internal organs to the outside environment through an ostomy, ostomy nurses must be particularly attentive and detailed, to ensure wounds heal well without infection. They must also be able to adequately determine whether an individual with an ostomy is able to self-care in a responsible manner to ensure safety and prevention of infection.

What are the Duties of a Wound Ostomy Care Nurse?

Ostomy patients typically require the comfort and support of their nursing team, particularly as their physical wounds do not heal completely as part of ongoing treatment. Having an ostomy or incontinence is difficult for many people and is a life change that requires the attentive participation of a nurse to help the patient through mental, physical, social, and emotional hurdles, particularly at the beginning of their care.

Ostomy nurses, and WOC nurses in general, provide frequent counseling as part of their medical career. They help ostomy patients in ways many other fields of nursing do not have to help patients, over emotional hurdles and through personal grief. These nurses also connect patients with other professionals as needed. It is not uncommon for WOC nurses to refer patients to psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, and physical therapists.

What Procedures and Services are Provided by WOC Nurses?

WOC nurses help patients manage multiple aspects of wounds, ostomies, and also incontinence. Some commonly treated issues are pressure ulcers, surgical incisions, draining and traumatic wounds, and fistulas and tubes.

For ostomy care, nurses provide both pre-operative and post-operative support and education for patients and their loved ones. This is for individuals with colostomies, ileostomies, or urostomies. Additionally, treatment may occur within inpatient environments, outpatient settings, or both.

Ostomy nurses have a variety of duties as part of each workday. Nurses who work in home health care agencies, long-term facilities, or other expansive environments deal with death on a regular basis. WOC nurses should be able to move effectively and lift and handle open wounds. Additionally, they should be sensitive to patient needs with the utmost professionalism.

What are the Daily Activities of a WOC Nurse?

Specific activities as part of a WOC nurse’s workday may include some or all of the items listed below.

  • Checking patient skin for signs of tears, stress, ulcerations or infection
  • Education of patients regarding skin issues and care
  • Design and communication of wound care plans
  • Prevention of skin ulceration and bed sores for immobile patients
  • Treatment of surgical wounds
  • Outpatient visits or rounds
  • Patient counseling and education
  • Staff education and updates
  • Wound dermabrasion and other specialized treatments
  • Patient counseling on emotional, personal or social matters

Where Does an Ostomy Nurse Practice?

There is a multitude of settings in which an ostomy nurse may practice. As part of their nursing career, WOC nurses work in hospitals and other acute medicine settings. However, as the quality of care for the aging and those with long-term illnesses improves, more and more ostomy nurses are working in private homes and long-term facilities. Outpatient care is much more commonly provided by ostomy nurses now, thanks largely to changing standards of healthcare.

How do you Become a Wound Ostomy Nurse?

Most nursing degree programs require candidates for WOC nursing to hold a bachelor’s degree. Once you earn a BSN many prospective nurses move on to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Following the graduate nursing degree, a certificate program in a wound, ostomy, and continence care is generally the next step.

What Education Do you Need to Become a Wound Ostomy Nurse?

Some nursing schools offer WOC care as part of their graduate training, but most offer a second certificate for post-graduate pursuit. As part of the WOC nursing certification education, nurses can expect both classroom training and clinical experience. wound ostomy nurse certification

What is the Best Wound Care Certification?

At the end of WOC certification training, qualified graduates may specialize within specific areas relative to wound, ostomy, and also continence care. Or, they may receive a generalized certification.

The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNB) govern these programs, providing national certification to graduates who pass the required examination.

What is the Job Outlook for Wound Ostomy Nurses?

Are wound care nurses in high demand? Nurses who gain WOC certification have an excellent occupational outlook as part of their nursing career. This is because the general population is aging and experiencing longer lifetimes than ever before. With a longer life span comes a higher propensity toward medical procedures performed to extend life despite major obstacles once considered untreatable.

How Much Do Wound Ostomy Nurses Make?

Most wound ostomy nurse jobs pay well. So, the income of an ostomy nurse is quite healthy and provides a good quality of life. Many WOC nurses achieve income comparable to general physicians working within small practice environments.

Therefore, the greater the nursing career focus upon certifications, experience, and specializations, the higher financial potential becomes for that nurse.

Ostomy Nurse Personal Characteristics

Education, experience, and also certifications are important as part of a WOC nursing career. Also very important are the general disposition and personality characteristics of a nurse considering becoming an ostomy nurse. Bedside manner is extremely key in WOC nursing, for both patient well-being and the nurse’s career development.

What are the Standard Characteristics of Successful WOC Nurses?

  • Ability to lead and direct others
  • Inclination toward taking initiative
  • Unstressed by change or role diversity
  • Unafraid of difficult or challenging patient issues
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Strong teaching skills
  • Empathy and patience
  • Technologically inclined