How to Become a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse

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Wound, ostomy, and continence nursing is an essential part of nursing that deals with caring for patients that have a variety of medical conditions. Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses are registered nurses provide essential care and treatment to many different patients.

Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses provide care and treatment to patients suffering from acute and chronic conditions. They care for patients with ulcers, arterial disease, and wounds caused by traumatic injury. They also provide postoperative care to patients that have ostomies, which are openings that allow alternative ways to eliminate bodily wastes and treat patients that suffer from incontinence. Some wound, ostomy, and continence nurses specialize in a specific area and others practice in all three areas.

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What kind of training does a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse need?

Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. Most earn a bachelor degree. Prospective wound, ostomy, and continence nurses typically complete courses in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, chemistry, biology, principles of nursing, and wound, ostomy, and continence care. All registered nurses must be licensed by passing the National Council for Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Many wound, ostomy, and continence nurses gain professional certification from the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board to remain competitive in the field. They must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and keep their skills up to date.

What are the prospects for a career as a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for wound, ostomy, and continence care will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent, especially for wound, ostomy, and continence nurses that have extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace wound, ostomy, and continence nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do wound, ostomy, and continence nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for wound, ostomy, and continence nurse is $58,000; average annual wound, ostomy, and continence nurse salaries vary greatly with location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care for patients with a variety of acute and chronic conditions. Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses must have a solid understanding of providing care to many different conditions. Patience, motivation, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses must have physical stamina and emotional stability. They must also have excellent communication and the ability to work as part of team.

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