14 Oct CWCN | Certified Wound Care Nurse
There’s a growing need for Certified Wound Care Nurses (CWCN) in the United States as the country’s rapidly aging population brings with it a range of growing health issues.
At the moment more than 6.5 million Americans live with chronic wounds and up to 25% of diabetics will develop a wound related disease in their lifetime. The growing obesity rate in the U.S is adding to the rise in chronic diabetes too. You can read more about wound care nurses opportunities here.
As people age, they become more vulnerable to skin lesions because their skin is more delicate. Many are also likely to be bedridden.
Certified wound care nurses provide treatment and preventative health care to these patients in hospitals, wound care centers, home health services, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, hospices and public health agencies.
Certified Wound Care Nurses Treat Chronic Wounds
Sometimes referred to as continence or ostomy nurses, it’s the job of CWCNs to monitor and treat chronic wounds like bedsores, ulcers and abscesses. Certified wound care nurses are often responsible for cleaning and treating the wounds of patients after surgery, colostomy sites and feeding tubes.
It’s a critical area of patient care because it’s essential to minimize the risk of infection, suffering, loss of bodily functions and life-threatening complications. The first task of a CWCN is to assess the wound, look for any complications or signs of infection and then develop a treatment plan.
Certified wound care nurses work closely with the patient’s physician to provide the correct course of antibiotics, surgical drains and surgical debridements for serious wounds. Debridement of the wound cleans out any dead tissue and foreign materials.
Certified Wound Care Nurses Have A Lot Of Responsibility
This is one of the more unpleasant roles of being a wound care nurse. Even seasoned wound care nurses can have a hard time coping with the smells and sights of untreated or infected wounds.
But it’s the responsibility of CWCNs to regularly inspect and clean these wounds, rebandage them regularly and keep a close watch on how well the wound is healing.
The role is critical as elderly patients in particular are at risk of developing infections that can lead to the loss of limbs or even their life.
Wound care nurses also work closely with other caregivers to educate them about how to take care of a patient once they leave hospital. Or ensure that caregivers in nursing homes and hospices are aware of the importance of proper wound care when the CWCN is not around.
A classic example of wound care education is making sure that caregivers understand the importance of caring for an elderly person confined to a bed who has bed sores.
It is important that the patient is rotated regularly and pressure on their body is relieved using specialized pillows. Certified wound care nurses will spend time with the caregivers explaining the importance of these tasks to prevent the patient’s condition from worsening.
The minimum requirement to become a CWCN is first becoming a qualified registered nurse (RN). But today, more nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) are undertaking additional wound care training.
Specialized wound care training usually takes between two to three months. The program focuses on both classroom training and hands-on experience.
Generally, your training will involve the evaluation, diagnosis and management of wounds. You’ll also learn about the correct way to accelerate healing through nutrition and blood sugar management, as well as ways to treat ulcerated wounds. Many wound care nursing programs involve a sub-specialty area of treatment such as ostomy or foot care too.
Once you have finished your training, you must sit and pass the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB) examination to become a certified wound care nurse. Certification can also be obtained through the National Alliance of Wound Care (NAWC) and the American Academy of Wound Management (AAWM).
Most new certified wound care nurses receive additional on-the-job supervision and mentoring that can last from anywhere between a few weeks and a few months depending on their nursing experience and training.
Jobs for CWCNs are expected to increase between 10% and 27% over the next decade as America’s Baby Boomer population ages. This growing need for certified wound care nurses if also now being reflected in their salaries.
On average, certified wound care nurses earn around $62,000 per year but this can go up to $82,000 or more with experience. Over the years, it is very common for certified wound care nurses to move into more advanced wound treatment roles.
Certified wound care nurses often become wound care supervisors, administrators, advanced practice nurses, researchers, educators and wound care consultants for private businesses.
The role of certified wound care nurses is being more and more important in American health care. There is a rapidly growing need for more certified wound care nurses as the aging population suffers from an increase in obesity, diabetes and other age-related illnesses.