By Angela Graham, RN, CWOCN – Clinical education consultant

My career in nursing has been exceptional, largely due to obtaining two nursing certifications. My first was as a certified rehabilitation registered nurse (CRRN), and then I became a certified wound, ostomy and continence nurse (CWOCN).

Being a certified nurse has elevated my career along with my passion for nursing. As a CWOCN, I have been able to touch the lives of more patients and caregivers by providing elevated care through support, empathy and education.

I am now part of a collective group of wound care professionals that offers many opportunities and the ability to network with those in the field.

Why should you consider obtaining a wound care nursing certification?

As nurses, we are lifelong learners. Many nurses actively move through education and career paths by obtaining post baccalaureate degrees and advance practice degrees. But for many, these may not be viable options or not the direction your practice is leading you.

This is where nursing certifications can be valuable and rewarding to you as a clinician, your employer, and most importantly those you are entrusted to provide care to.

Obtaining a nursing certification is a voluntary decision and shows a commitment to the profession of nursing. Nursing certifications demonstrate knowledge and skills, and add value to your employment.

Wound care certification has a tremendous positive impact on a number of things. Many studies have shown that it improves patient outcomes, in addition to improving job satisfaction and retention.

I know that for me, being able to serve as a homecare clinician and now a clinical educator at Encompass Health with my wound care certification has given me the most rewarding years of my career.  

How do you obtain wound care nursing certifications?

There are multiple certification options to choose from, which makes it easy and exciting to expand your career and focus on your passion no matter what type of healthcare setting you’re in.

Certification programs are offered by professional associations. Each may vary as to enrollment requirements and course work, but most require passing a national examination along with a continuing educational and renewal process.

What makes certifications unique is that they are nationally recognized no matter your state or employer. This allows you to become part of greater group of dedicated nurses.

For me, I was fortunate enough to attend the Emory University Distance Learning Wound, Ostomy and Continence Program 17 years ago. A program such as Emory’s is required in order to take the national examination to obtain your certification credentials.

These are just a few of the programs that offer the education basis required for wound certification:

  • Emory University Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Education Center
  • Cleveland Clinic – R. B. Turnbull, Jr. MD Wound, Ostomy Continence Nursing Education Program
  • Rutgers University School of Nursing – Camden Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Education Program
  • The Wound and Ostomy Education Program at Valley Foundation School of Nursing, San Jose State University
  • University of Washington Wound Management Education Program
  • Web WOC® Nursing Education Program

There are also several certifying agencies to explore:

These programs vary in length, cost, prerequisites and testing. Some consist of in-person training, dual online and in-person training, varying clinical hours required and renewal processes. Explore your options and follow your passion.

How has it helped me at Encompass Health?

One of the exciting aspects of my personal certification as a CWOCN is the ability to partner with WOCN® and offer an exciting program called the Wound Treatment Associate (WTA®) Program to our clinicians at Encompass Health.

This program is a stepping-stone to receiving your certification. After completing the WTA program, nurses are prepared to offer evidence-based care with elevated wound knowledge to aid in patient care as well as peer-to-peer education.

An added benefit is that employees are then eligible for the WTA-C designation if they wish to pursue advancement. Data shows that these types of programs impact patient healing rates, help healthcare agencies elevate their clinical programs and support the professional development of their employees.

There are so many exciting programs and options to help advance your career. Explore, learn and go for it.

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