How to Become a Certified Ostomy Nurse

Overview

Nursing is a healthcare profession that focuses on giving medical care and aid to patients, families and groups. Nurses have the option of choosing from a number of different specializations such as public health care, neonatal, mental health, family nursing, and so on. One niche in nursing categories is ostomy.

An ostromy nurse specializes in providing specific treatment and care to patients who have suffered physical wounds by way of injury, medical treatment or disease. Nurses who operate and specialize in this field are often referred to as wound, ostomy, continence nurses (WOCNs). These nurses provide care to patients who are suffering from bowel or bladder diversions.

If you wish to enable patients who are suffering from bowel or bladder diversions due to old age, injury or disease, then you should aim to become a certified ostomy nurse so you can provide them with rehabilitative and acute care.

Education Requirements

Like with most medical fields, a great deal of importance is given to academic qualifications because there is almost no room for error when human lives are in the question. To become a certified ostomy nurse, you will first need to become a registered nurse (RN).

The best way to do so is by working for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A nursing diploma or an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) is also an option that you can explore. The next step after your undergraduate degree is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

After this point you can start to work as a registered nurse. Now you can select an area of specialization which is ostomy in this case. You should complete an ostomy program accredited by the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (wocn.org). After this you must aim for certification.

For certification needs you should refer to the Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing Certification Board (wocncb.org) and American Academy of Wound Management (aawm.org). These are the authorities when it comes to providing certification for ostomy nurses. Details such as exam schedules, course material and so on should be researched.

Job Duties

The job duties of an ostromy nurse may vary from practice to practice. Factors that influence the job duties of an ostomy nurse are seniority, experience, size of the practice, number of staff and so on.

  1. Take the patients history and inspect the current condition to assess patient treatment
  2. Monitor the patients recovery on  a daily basis to gauge effectiveness of treatment and medicine
  3. Routinely change patients medicine and dressing to ensure the area remains hygienic and clean
  4. Consult with the senior physician regarding the patient’s progress or complications that may occur during treatment
  5. Be kind and gentle with the patient as he or she will need to make a smooth transition
  6. Educate the patient and family on the procedure, the shortcomings and the minor changes needed for a successful transition
  7. You will need to be a source of support and comfort for the patient and the patient’s family
  8. Consult and appear on various procedures such as a colostomy, transverse colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy, orthopedic neobladder and so on
  9. Apply skin care, topical and pain relief products on patients to provide relief and cosmetic care
  10. Keep the medical equipment, instruments and room under strict hygiene conditions
  11. Explain to patients on how to adapt and make the transition with ease at home

Listed above are some general job duties that you might come across during your career. Use this list as a reference so that you have a general idea of what to expect as an ostomy nurse.

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), there is an increase in employment of 26% of registered nurses during 2010 to 2020 which translates to about 711,900 new jobs. This growth can be attributed to factors such as an increase in research and development, new technologies, and increased emphasis on preventative and curative care.

According to medical journals over 6.5 million Americans are living with chronic wounds. Furthermore, upto 25% of the diabetic patients will get a disease related wound. Keeping these facts in mind as well as the increasing aging population, there will be an increase in the need for certified ostomy nurses to provide treatment and care.

Salary Prospects

The average annual salary for a certified ostomy nurse is $55,000 (simplyhired.com). In this field your level of experience can dictate your earning potential. As you work with a number of patients and cases, you will get more hands-on experience and will therefore be in a better position when negotiating your salary. On the other hand according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average annual salary for a registered nurse is $64,690 (bls.gov) which is about $31.10 per hour.

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