Jessica always knew she wanted to be a nurse. But not just any nurse; she wanted to specialize as a wound care nurse. After all, chronic wounds affect 6.7 million patients annually. They are a burden and a challenge on the healthcare system and the patients who suffer from them. That includes Jessica’s grandmother, who was bedridden for years and constantly needed a nurse to come to their home and address her painful bedsores. Jessica was fascinated by this process and the compassionate care her grandmother received. As she got older, she, too, wanted to have a say in determining the proper course of treatment to promote optimal healing in the most complex wounds.
In honor of National Nurses Week May 6-12, at StrideWoundCare we want to shine light on the wound care nurse role. In this article we will share what makes them different, and how their commitment to assessing, treating, and caring for patients who suffer from a variety of chronic wounds are giving the people they treat hope for the future.
Do you need a wound care nurse for your chronic wounds? Our experts create treatment plans to meet your unique needs. Call 214-285-9200 or request an appointment. Appointment
Why is Wound Care So Important?
When we say “wound care,” we are talking about a specialized type of treatment for wounds that goes beyond a standard Band-Aid for minor cuts, scrapes, and abrasions. Simply put, not every wound heals within a matter of a few days. Many last for weeks and months without showing signs of improvement. These typically result from underlying conditions ranging from poor blood flow, low oxygen, trauma, or circulation issues in the legs and feet to complications from diabetes, prolonged pressure from immobility, and more.
Complex wounds are difficult to manage and result in $39 billion being spent on wounds annually. These injuries and diseases ultimately damage the body’s blood vessels, causing swelling that deprives damaged cells of critical oxygen. As a result, what appears to be a simple wound doesn’t heal as quickly.
Examples of chronic wounds include:
- Non-healing surgical wounds
- Venous, arterial, diabetic, and pressure ulcers
- Gangrene or tissue death
- Radiation wounds
- Burn wounds
- Abrasions and lacerations
- Traumatic or crushing injury wounds
- Skin tears
- Complex abdominal wounds
A quality treatment plan that is implemented early can improve wound healing outcomes. This is where having a wound care nurse in your corner can really help.
What Is a Wound Care Nurse’s Role?
A wound care nurse, also known as a WOC nurse, specializes in assessing and treating skin breakdowns and wounds like the ones mentioned above. Because this is a specialty, they are routinely consulted by physicians for recommendations on the best course of action for each individual case. They must obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing before attempting to receive a Certified Wound Care Nurse certification. These certifications recognize and differentiate the value of expert nurses from those at an entry-level.
As stated by The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board, more than 9,700 nurses are certified by their board in treating wounds (CWCN), continence care (CCCN), ostomies (COCN), or all three, and ensures that a wound care nurse is knowledgeable and qualified to meet any wound care need. If they are certified in all three, they are considered a Certified Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurse (CWOCN). With that said, the number of board-certified wound care nurses is much larger than that when you consider there are other certifying bodies such as the American Board of Wound Management and the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy.
According to nurse.org and other leading sites, the career outlook for wound care nurses is expected to increase given the rise in diabetes and other underlying conditions that lead to chronic wounds. Below are a few of the duties nurses do to promote wound healing:
How Does a Wound Care Nurse Promote Wound Healing?
- Assessing and monitoring wounds
- Debriding, cleaning, and bandaging wounds
- Tailoring wound dressings to the unique needs of each patient
- Managing infection control
- Educating patients and caretakers on wound care, infection, and injury prevention
- Prescribing antibiotics
- Working with the care team to determine if other treatments are required
- Writing orders to promote wound healing and avoid skin breakdown
The wound care nurse role is not a new concept. Wound healing has been overseen by nurses for more than 150 years and encompasses promoting therapeutic nutrition, mobility, psychosocial support, hygiene, and comfort. They are commonly consulted during a patient’s stay in the hospital when a wound or ulcer is discovered. This can include the operating room, critical care wings, and the ICU. But they may also work from other locations, including nursing homes and hospices, public health agencies, home health care agencies, and specialized wound care clinics.
When Do I See a Wound Care Nurse?
If you have a wound that you’re worried isn’t healing, it is never too early to visit a wound care nurse. It could be that the wound is healing just fine and that nothing needs to be done. But if it’s been a few weeks, seeking treatment now can avoid further complications. In general, you will want to see a specialist if your wound isn’t showing signs of healing after two weeks or hasn’t healed completely after six weeks. Additional signs that you could be heading down a difficult path include redness and swelling in the affected area, increased pain, and an inability to move the affected area, and even pus or an odorous discharge.
A thorough evaluation can be performed on the wound itself as well as asking more questions to better understand your medical history and how that may or may not be contributing to your acute or chronic wound.
Do you have a wound or skin ulcer that won’t heal? Call 214-285-9200 or request an appointment for an expert that can help! Appointment
Contact StrideWoundCare with Questions About Wound Treatment
Deciding on the best course of action is for a wound or skin ulcer can be challenging for someone who is not used to these conditions or has been living with discomfort for an extended period. At StrideWoundCare we understand how frustrating, time consuming, and costly it can be to take care of wounds. Our wound care team has specialized training to manage and assess wounds of all types. We offer easy access to our wound care services, including multiple outpatient locations throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
In addition to providing excellent wound care and management, our nurses will teach you how to care for your wound in between visits to promote healing and protect it from further injury. For a consultation with one of our experts, please contact us at 214-285-9200 or complete the appointment form.Appointment
This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider.
StrideWoundCare serves the D/FW area including Richardson, Garland, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Irving, Grand Prairie, Denton, Flower Mound, Sherman, Dennison, HEB, Hutchins, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Mesquite, Lewisville, Craig Ranch, Arlington, Fort Worth, Addison, Carrollton, and all North Texas.