Wound Care Nurse Certification
Wound care nurses, also known as WOC (Wound, Ostomy, and Continence) nurses or Wound Care Specialists, are specialized nurses who assess, monitor and treat wounds, peristomal complications, and skin breakdown. They are the valued and important members of the healthcare system. These medical professionals work with patients suffering from pressure ulcers, diabetes, and ostomies, and are responsible for preventing infection and further injury.
WOC nurses can work in public health agencies, hospice, long-term care centers, critical care centers, patient care facilities, physician’s office, etc. Patient recovery and comfort is the utmost priority for these nurses.
How to Get Wound Care Certified?
Each wound care certification board has different sets of requirements for its candidates. The following certifications are available for the aspirants who want to become a wound care nurse.
- Certified Wound Specialist (CWS)
- Certified Wound Care Nurse Certification (CWCN)
- Wound Care Certification (WCC)
- Certified Wound Care Associate (CWCA)
- Certified Wound Specialist Physician (CWSP)
The requirements to achieve each certification vary. All nurses, including LVNs, LPNs, RNs, and associate degree nurses, can become CWCA certified after completing requisite hours of training and passing the exam. However, Registered Nurses and BSNs have better choices for certification.
Nurses with a Bachelor’s degree or higher and an active RN license can go for CWCN or CWS certification.
Wound Care Certification Courses for LVNs/LPNs
LPNs/LVNs need to complete at least 50 CE hours to obtain CWCA or WCC certifications. The course covers an overview of wound basics and various fundamental wound care topics required for successful wound management. The CWCA certification remains valid for 10 years.
Wound Care Certification Courses for Registered Nurses
RNs with a diploma or associate degree can consider pursuing CWS certification that remains valid for 10 years or WCC certification that lasts for 5 years. Aspirants receive 50 CE hours of training.
Wound Care Certification Courses for BSNs and Nurse Practitioners
57 hours of training is provided to BSNs or NPs to obtain the CWCN (valid for 5 years) or CWS (valid for 10 years) certification. The curriculum is designed to provide comprehensive wound care knowledge to potential nurses.
Ways of Getting Wound Care Certified
There are two ways of achieving wound care certification:
1. Traditional Path
Candidates who follow this path are expected to complete an accredited program. They must also have at least 1 year of relevant clinical experience within the last 5 years prior to applying to the WOC nursing program.
2. Experiential Path
Candidates who are willing to choose this field must have 1500 clinical hours (of these, at least 375 hours must be completed within the year before applying) and 50 CE contact hours (or the equivalent coursework) within the last 5 years before applying to WOC nursing program.
You can appear for the national board exam after completing any of the above two paths.
Procedure to Obtain Wound Care Certification
You are supposed to follow the below-given steps in order to get certified:
1. Complete an ADN or BSN Degree
An ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree is an essential educational requirement to get certified as a wound care nurse. Obtain the degree from an accredited nursing school.
2. Obtain RN Certification
After graduating from a nursing school, sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, and qualify it to earn the Registered Nurse certification. For detailed guidelines on how to register and prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam, do visit https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm.
3. Gain Nursing Experience
You need at least one year of nursing experience prior to applying for the WOC nursing certification. You can work in various settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, etc. to gain experience.
4. Acquire WOC Nursing Certificate
There are several accredited organizations that offer certification in wound care, foot care, continence, and ostomy, such as the American Board of Wound Management, the National Alliance of Wound Care, and the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board. Enroll yourself in any of these organizations to earn certification.
WOCNCB certificate remains valid for 5 years; after that, you are required to get recertified. Recertification must be done before the expiration date of the current certificate.
There are two ways to recertify valid, non-lapsed WOCNCB certificate:
If your certification is currently active, you need to send an examination application at least 1.5 years before the certificate expires. You are also required to clear the test before the expiration of the credentials.
In case your certificate lapses in less than 6 months, you can use the 6-month grace period (get details here). If it has been more than 6 months since your credentials have lapsed, you can showcase your eligibility through the Experiential Pathway to apply for the exam.
How to apply for the exam?
- Visit the site, create your account, and apply.
- You will receive an email confirming your eligibility to the exam.
- Schedule your examination before the expiration of your current credentials or up to 1 year from the time of submission of examination application. However, it is recommended that the candidate must schedule the examination dates at least 90 days before the expiration of credentials.
- You can view exam dates 4 to 30 days out.
- You will get testing sessions on the basis of first-come, first-serve.
2. Professional Growth Program (PGP)
Below are the eligibility requirements for PGP:
- The applicant must be currently certified as an RN, and he/she must provide a license/certificate in PGP profile.
- You will not be considered eligible if you have previously failed the exam for the current recertification period.
- A complete portfolio, along with requisite fees, must be submitted between 3 and 12 months before the expiration of credentials.
- You must have at least 80 points (but not more than 90 points) in your portfolio. Moreover, a minimum of 50% of your portfolio must be concerned with the clinical specialty.
- Create an online PGP profile at http://www.wocncb.org/pgp/ and keep entering your activities/projects.
You will be granted recertification once your portfolio is reviewed and approved by the PGP Committee. You are given two resubmissions opportunities if any revision is required.
If your portfolio doesn’t get approved, you can go for recertification via examination.
Wound Care Certification Cost
The cost of wound care certification depends on the certification (WCC, CWSP, CWCA, CWCN) that you want to pursue. The total cost comprises the certification exam cost and course cost.
The exam application fees range between $395 per year to $670 per year. For details, visit here.
Online Wound Care Courses for Nurses
Online wound care courses provide you practical, real-world skin, and wound management training. These courses equip you with the essential skills required to clear the certification exam. One thing that needs to be kept in mind while choosing the online wound care nurse training program is, it must be accredited by a recognized authority/board.
Online wound care certification classes cover a wide range of topics, including different types of ulcers, wound management techniques, wound assessment, debridement methods, etc. The curriculum is designed by certified and experienced wound care instructors.
Below are some benefits of online wound care certification programs:
- You can learn at your convenience and pace.
- Easy to set your daily learning goals and customize your study plan.
- Save money and time to attend traditional on-campus classes.
- The mobile-friendly format allows you to study on the go.
- Prepare yourself for the exam with the help of digital flashcards, learning games, and practice questions.
- Students can get 24/7 support.
Educational Requirements for CWCN Certification
Following are some educational requirements that must be fulfilled by the CWCN aspirant.
- Associate’s or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree
- An active RN certificate
- Prior working experience as a nurse
Salary of Wound Care Nurse
Since only a few nurses specialize in treating severe cuts and wounds, the demand for wound care nursing is upsurging. These professionals earn a decent salary in addition to various monetary and non-monetary benefits.
The hourly salary of the wound care nurse in the United States as of August 12, 2019, was $38.53 (according to indeed.com). They earned overtime pay of $10,125 per annum.
Wound Care Nurse Salary by Location
|Alabama||$27.69 per hour|
|Arkansas||$63,703 per annum|
|California||$1,092 per week|
|Colorado||$84,993 per annum|
|Connecticut||$2,211 per week|
|District of Columbia||$2,181 per week|
|Florida||$34.18 per hour|
|Georgia||$33.90 per hour|
|Illinois||$68,232 per annum|
|Louisiana||$73,218 per annum|
|Maine||$13.26 per hour|
|Michigan||$77,875 per annum|
|Minnesota||$43.22 per hour|
|Missouri||$71,343 per annum|
|Montana||$54.90 per hour|
|New Mexico||$37.18 per hour|
|Nevada||$36.18 per hour|
|New York||$87,790 per annum|
|Ohio||$69,258 per annum|
|Oregon||$49.47 per hour|
|Pennsylvania||$94,394 per annum|
|South Carolina||$124,471 per annum|
|Texas||$95,793 per annum|
|Washington||$438 per week|
Information Source: indeed.com (as of August 24, 2019)
Salary of Professionals with Related Job Titles
|Job Title||Average Hourly Pay|
|Wound Care Nurse||$28.57|
|Certified Wound Care Nurse||$30.13|
|Certified Wound Nurse||$28.54|
|Foot Care Nurse||$26.19|
|Wound Care Coordinator||$35.04|
|Wound Care Certified RN||$31.00|
Information Source: payscale.com (as of August 22, 2019)
It is evident from the above table that nurses with the job title Wound Care Coordinator earned the highest hourly salary, i.e., $35.04 per hour.
Job Duties of Wound Care Nurse
Wound care nurses must have excellent verbal and written communication skills as well as basic computer skills. As they ought to render their duties during weekends, days, evenings, or nights, they must be flexible to work in rotating shifts.
Below are some of the major job duties and responsibilities of a wound care nurse:
- Preparing care plan for patients suffering from continence, ostomies, and complex wounds.
- Explaining treatment plans and providing care instructions to patients and their families.
- Educating patients and their families about prevention of infection.
- Ensuring that all medical equipment and devices are organized and clean.
- Demonstrating the relevant skills and knowledge required to deliver the right care to patients.
- Administering treatments in compliance with established infection control protocols and standard nursing practice guidelines.
- Managing and treating traumatic and draining wounds, surgical incisions, fistulas, bedsores, and ulcers.
- Helping patients with pain management and quick recovering.
- Monitoring wound healing progress and making appropriate recommendations.
- Documenting the health condition of patients and communicate the same to supervisors or doctors.
- Coordinating with the medical team to provide appropriate treatment to patients.
- Removing and applying dressings, cleaning the wounds, and interpreting the test results.
- Cleaning and sanitizing to maintain the hygiene of the premises.
- Demonstrating and explaining the procedure of wound care to other caregivers.