A wound care nurse is a nursing professional who spends his or her day caring for patients’ injury-related wounds, ulcers, fistulas, ostomies, surgical incision sites and other acute or chronic wounds. The primary goals of a wound care nurse include keeping wounds clean, watching for signs of infection and treating any complications that arise. When wounds are particularly serious, wound care nurses use specialized techniques, such as compression to improve their condition.
Since complications from a wound infection, such as undetected bleeding or other wound-related issues can be so serious, wound care nurses must typically obtain a separate certification that requires additional training. During training, wound care nurses learn how to evaluate a wound and develop a course of treatment, recognize and resolve potential problems and use specific techniques to improve the condition of various types of wounds. Wound care nurses must always be prepared for a variety of complex situations.
A Typical Day
On most days, a wound care nurse will deal with at least one common wound, such as a surgical incision. However, wound care specialists often handle more severe cases, such as deep fistulas, acute ulcerations and ostomies. On a first visit, a wound care nurse evaluates the patient’s wound to determine its current condition and the best course of treatment. During follow-up visits, the nurse applies the chosen treatment protocol and analyzes the wound’s progress. If complications develop, or if the wound isn’t improving as quickly as it should be, the nurse may make changes to the treatment plan.
Common cases treated by wound care nurses include:
Wound care nurses may work in hospitals, or they may travel to patients’ homes. Wound care nurses who work in hospital settings typically deal with more serious cases, since most patients are only hospitalized when their wounds are critical. At-home wound care nurses typically care for patients who have returned to their homes after their wounds improved enough to reduce the chances of serious complications. At-home wound care nurses must watch carefully for signs of infection or other problems, as this may require a return to the hospital.
Working as a Wound Care Nurse
A career as a wound care nurse isn’t right for every healthcare professional. Wound care nurses deal with some of the most serious and potentially life-threatening conditions in the nursing field, and the daily activities of a wound care nurse can be stressful and demanding. However, this career can also be very rewarding, especially for nurses who enjoy challenging cases. With the right skill set, a wound care nurse can speed his or her patients’ healing times and dramatically improve their quality of life.