Wound care nurses are registered nurses who specialize in assessing and treating acute, chronic, and complex patient wounds. They’re considered experts in the field of wound treatment and there’s much more to their scope of practice beyond cleaning and dressing wounds. Wound care is a very important part of patient care. Patients rely on wound care nurses to help alleviate their pain, keep them safe from infection, and promote quick and complete healing. Wound care is a dynamic, rewarding career for nurses wanting to play an instrumental role in ensuring optimal wound care and helping patients’ bodies to heal.
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Wound Care Nurse FAQs
What does a wound care nurse do?
Wound care nurses may perform slightly different tasks depending on where they work and the patient populations they treat. However, all wound care nurses assess and treat patient wounds, which may include lacerations, fistulas, pressure and skin ulcers, burns, surgical wounds, diabetic foot issues, and ostomies, among others. Some common duties of a wound care nurse might include:
Creating care plans for patients with complex wounds
Cleaning wounds to remove debris/bacteria and mitigate infections
Dressing wounds to prevent bacteria from entering
Monitoring wounds for signs of infection
Providing treatment recommendations based on patient’s specific needs
Recommending antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or surgery when appropriate
Consulting with doctors and other healthcare team members on wound treatment
Educating staff nurses and other healthcare professionals on wound care and prevention
Educating patients, their families, and caregivers on appropriate at-home wound care
Reviewing signs and symptoms of infection with patients prior to discharge
Providing pressure ulcer prevention tips for bedridden or limited mobility patients
Where do wound care nurses work?
Wound care nurses work in a variety of healthcare settings, but primarily where chronic or complex wounds are common. Many facilities have dedicated positions for certified wound care nurses in critical care and intensive care units. Some hospitals may even have wound care teams that include certified wound care nurses who receive consults and treat patients in various areas throughout the facility. Sometimes, these teams also include physical therapists trained in wound care. Wound care nurses may also work in any inpatient setting where patients are bedridden or have limited mobility, such as nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and hospices. They may also work for home health agencies and in patients’ homes.
What skills make a good wound care nurse?
Good wound care nurses are experts in wound care procedures with comprehensive knowledge of wounds, signs of infection, and all types of treatment options. They have thorough assessment and diagnostic skills to evaluate patients and recommend the most suitable treatments to facilitate quick, complete wound healing.
Superior wound care nurses have strong verbal communication skills that allow them to discuss treatment options with healthcare teams and explain treatment plans to patients with limited medical knowledge. They’re highly compassionate, which allows them to build rapport with their patients. Critical thinking, accurate written communication skills, and strong organizational skills are also highly admired traits of a good wound care nurse.
How to become a Wound Care Travel Nurse
Becoming a registered nurse is the first step in a career as a wound care travel nurse, which requires an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. To become a board-certified wound care nurse, a bachelor’s degree is required by the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB) but not the American Board of Wound Management (ABWM). Certification may also require completing an accredited wound care education program or accumulating the appropriate type and number of direct patient clinical hours and continuing education credits.
Many healthcare facilities require wound care certification. Several organizations offer certifications, including Board Certified Wound Care Nurse through the WOCNCB, Board Certified Wound Specialist through the ABWM, and Wound Care Certified through the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy. Wound care nurses may also need Basic Life Support certification. Travel wound care nursing jobs typically require one to two-plus years of experience in acute care or a wound care setting.