What is a Wound Care Nurse?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A wound care nurse is a nurse who specializes in wound management. These nurses work with a patient's medical team to monitor a variety of wounds and their healing process, and they also care directly for the patient, promoting healthy and rapid healing of a wide variety of wounds. The minimum qualification for work in this nursing specialty is a nursing certification, but most wound care nurses pursue additional board certification from a professional organization to make themselves more employable.

Wound care nurses specialize in wound management.
Wound care nurses specialize in wound management.

Chronic wounds such as bedsores, ulcers, and abscesses are often an important part of wound care nursing. These nurses can also care for ostomy sites, as well as the areas around feeding tubes, ports, and recent surgeries. Most work in a hospital setting, treating patients who require acute care, although some travel as home health consultants, or work in nursing homes and other residential facilities.

A wound care nurse may monitor a variety of wounds.
A wound care nurse may monitor a variety of wounds.

The first task of a wound care nurse is to assess a wound, determining the depth of the wound and taking note of any developing issues, such as signs of infection. Then, the nurse develops a treatment plan, which often starts with debridement of the wound to clean out dead tissue and any foreign material. In long-term care of the wound, the nurse regularly cleans and inspects the wound, rebandages it if necessary, and keeps an eye on the wound's progress.

The first task of a wound care nurse is to assess the wound.
The first task of a wound care nurse is to assess the wound.

Wound care nurses may need to consult with doctors to discuss the need for antibiotics, surgical drains, or surgical debridement in the case of serious wounds. They also work with other patient caregivers to educate them about wound care and handling the patient's case. For example, in an elderly person with bed sores, regular rotation of the patient and the use of specialized pillows to relieve pressure on the sores may be an important part of patient care.

A wound care nurse may apply bandages.
A wound care nurse may apply bandages.

People who are interested in a career as a wound care nurse should take extra classes in wound care while in nursing school to explore this nursing specialty. They may also want to ask for rotations and clinical experience under an experienced nurse so that they can get first-hand experience in wound care nursing. Wound care can be very rewarding, but it can also involve some unpleasant tasks, as neglected wounds can become quite gruesome, and the ability to handle unpleasant-looking wounds gently and respectfully is key to success as a wound care nurse.

Applying a hot compress can promote healing in wounds.
Applying a hot compress can promote healing in wounds.
Wound care is one of the specialties a nurse may focus on.
Wound care is one of the specialties a nurse may focus on.
A wound care nurse may conduct regular rotation of patients in bed in order to prevent bed sores.
A wound care nurse may conduct regular rotation of patients in bed in order to prevent bed sores.
A wound care nurse may travel as a home health consultant.
A wound care nurse may travel as a home health consultant.
A wound care nurse may work in nursing homes.
A wound care nurse may work in nursing homes.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Mykol

I really have a lot of respect for the wound care nurses I have had contact with. When my husband was burned in an accident, he spent a long time recovering in the hospital.

The wound care nurses were critical to his care and successful treatment. Every nurse he had was compassionate and professional.

For him there was a lot of pain involved in his healing, and I know it was hard for some of the nurses. It was one of those things where you had to go through the pain in order for there to be any healing.

It would also take someone with a stronger stomach than I have. There were many times when I had to leave the room when the wound nurses came in.

sunshined

My dad has diabetes that he has a hard time keeping under control. Because of this, he has had several wounds that have been very slow to heal.

He has made frequent visits to a wound care center about an hour from his home. They treat all different kinds of wounds at this center, and he has been really pleased with the treatment he has received there.

I think he felt like they were better suited to treat him than his small town doctor and clinic. There can be a lot more involved than what many people realize and he felt like he was dealing with people who were specifically trained to help him with his wounds.

SarahSon

I didn't realize a wound care nurse salary was that high. When I was in nursing school, I remember going through the training for wound care, but quickly knew it wasn't for me.

In my job, I am often responsible for minor wound care, but nothing like a certified wound care nurse would be.

I know how to look for signs of infection and the basic steps that need to be taken. Making sure patients don't get bed sores is also a big part of my job.

There are many times when something so simple as keeping them rotated in bed to prevent bed sores makes a huge difference in the quality of care they receive.

LisaLou

My daughter has worked as a wound care nurse for about 5 years. As far as the salary goes, there are a lot of things to take into consideration.

It all depends on if you are certified or not, what part of the country you live in, what area of nursing you are working in, and the years of experience you have.

As with all different nursing jobs, there can be a wide range when it comes to the salary. A certified wound care nurse who has some experience can expect to make around $70,000 a year.

That could be more or less depending on the factors mentioned above. I don't think very many people are interested in wound care nursing because of the money. There are many times when this can be a pretty tough job to handle.

anon127566

don't know. any idea? could someone please shed light on this? thanks.

anon69914

what is the salary increment for wound care certification?

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