by Holly M. Hovan, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CWOCN-AP
I recently posed a question to a nursing Facebook group regarding feelings on wound care certification. Basically, I was wondering what nurses think about being certified… What does it mean to you? I received a lot of feedback on this question, with comments on cost, renewal of wound care certification, monetary benefits (vs. exam cost) along with career advancement benefits, the level of difficulty for exams, the cost of study materials, added time, recognition from employers, displaying credentials, and being recognized as someone who went above and beyond.
How to Choose a Wound Care Certification Program
To me,wound care certification is a mark of professionalism. Typically, you’re recognized by an employer and your peers as an expert in the field. Additionally, your patients will look to you as the expert in their care. This is especially true with wound, ostomy, continence (WOC) nursing certification. There are several certifications to choose from, with different requirements for each one. I am often asked how to choose a certifying body, and some tips I feel are important are below:
- What are the history and position statement for the certifying body you’re interested in? Do they align with your goals and values?
- Is the certifying body recognized by your employer as an approved body?
- What are the requirements for initial certification and renewal? (e.g., some require a certain degree, education level, number of contact hours in the specialty, re-testing vs. submitted a portfolio)?
- And, of course, cost is also a factor—with this, I ask that you remember to break the actual cost down. For example, if your wound care certification is good for three or five years, take the initial cost of certification and divide it by the number of years you’ll have an active wound care certification. That way, you’ll be able to put things into perspective in terms of cost and save a little bit each year.
When choosing a certification, take a look at each of the wound care certifying body’s websites, and look up the requirements, costs, and suggested study materials. If your peers are certified, ask them the pros and cons of their wound care certification. Talk to your nurse leaders and get their input. Most importantly, understand the position statement of your certifying body and compare this with your values and professional goals. Remember that you’re on your way to becoming an expert in your field and displaying a very important mark of knowledge and professionalism.
Why Get Wound Care Certified?
As a patient, I’d definitely want to have a nurse who was certified in his or her specialty. And, as a nurse, I definitely want to be the best nurse that I can be; this means constantly learning and expanding my knowledge, practicing evidence-based care, and being an expert in my field. In a field that is as specialized as WOC nursing, it is certainly important to be wound care certified, along with having experience. Knowledge and experience go hand in hand here. In order to become wound care certified, you need a certain number of practice and clinical hours in your specialty (the number of hours may vary depending on the certifying body that you choose).
If you’re thinking of getting certified, I would definitely encourage you to do so! Do your homework first, and see what wound care certification best meets your needs, keeping in mind that you can be certified in more than one specialty and by more than one body. Think of your patient population and what would also best meet their needs, and remember, certification is a mark of professionalism!
About the Author
Holly is a board certified gerontological nurse and advanced practice wound, ostomy, and continence nurse coordinator at The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She has a passion for education, teaching, and our veterans. Holly has been practicing in WOC nursing for approximately six years. She has much experience with the long-term care population and chronic wounds as well as pressure injuries, diabetic ulcers, venous and arterial wounds, surgical wounds, radiation dermatitis, and wounds requiring advanced wound therapy for healing. Holly enjoys teaching new nurses about wound care and, most importantly, pressure injury prevention. She enjoys working with each patient to come up with an individualized plan of care based on their needs and overall medical situation. She values the importance of taking an interprofessional approach with wound care and prevention overall, and involves each member of the health care team as much as possible. She also values the significance of the support of leadership within her facility and the overall impact of great teamwork for positive outcomes.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.