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How to Become a WOC Nurse
The nurse embarking on the journey to become a WOC nurse is opening the door to a specialty that makes a tremendous difference in the lives you touch. Whether you plan to specialize in wounds, ostomies or incontinence all three practice areas offer opportunity for professional growth in a variety of health care settings. WOC nurses provide acute and rehabilitative needs for people with selected disorders of the gastrointestinal, genitourinary and/or integumentary system. WOC nurses provide direct care to people with abdominal stomas, wounds, fistulas, drains, pressure injuries, and/or continence disorders. As an educator, consultant, researcher and/or administrator the WOC nurse plays a pivotal role in the guidance of optimal patient care.
WOC nurses are Registered Nurses who hold a baccalaureate degree or higher and complete a formal, accredited WOC full scope or specialty education program.
Bringing it all together is no easy task. The WOC nurse's knowledge, leadership and commitment to caring make it happen. And for support, continuing education and professional resources, WOC nurses turn to the WOCN Society.
To see a Day in the Life of a WOC Nurse...
Criteria for Admission
The following minimum prerequisites are common for every program. Individual programs may have additional criteria.
The Program adheres to established standards for student admission as published in the Student Handbook. Students are admitted without discrimination.
Criteria for admission are:
Applicants can choose from the current WOCN-Accredited WOCNEPs in the U.S. Accreditation by the WOCN Society guarantees the student that the program meets established criteria regarding admission requirements, course content, clinical experience, qualified faculty and student/faculty ratio.
To meet the wide variety of needs of prospective students, the structure of each of the WOCNEPs is diverse. Each program has specific information about their structure, program dates tuition and fees, length of program and specific admission requirements. Types of program offerings include full scope or specialty courses. Individual programs may offer nursing education credits or academic, master's level credits for the course.
Individual programs have varied structures/formats for the learner to choose an option that best meets their learning style or needs. Program types include: traditional on-site; split-option; distance learning; web enhanced and online learning courses. All programs contain both a didactic and clinical component.
Upon successful completion of a WOCN-Accredited WOCNEP the nurse is awarded a certificate designating WOC nurse or specialty status. This qualifies the nurse to take national board examinations to become certified in wound, ostomy and/or continence nursing.
WOCNCB Board Certification
The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB)* provides a national certifying examination designed for entry level into the field for graduates of accredited educational programs. Graduates of an accredited WOC nursing full scope or specialty program are eligible to become Board Certified by taking the (WOCNCB) Examination(s).
Board certification is highly valued as a means of credentialing practitioners of WOC nursing. Certification is valid for five years, after which re-certification may be obtained by reexamination or through the Professional Growth Program (PGP), which is based upon a point system derived from activities such as continuing education, program or project development, research, publication, teaching, involvement in professional organizations, and academic education. Credentialed WOC nurses have successfully met rigorous criteria and passed a national board examination to be certified in the area(s) of wound, ostomy, and/or continence nursing.
For more information and to download the certification exam application form, please visit the WOCNCB's website or call the WOCNCB National Office at (888) 496-2622.
*The WOCN Society and WOCNCB are two separate and distinct entities that work collaboratively to support wound, ostomy and continence nursing practice. Each organization has its own unique mission and goals and is governed by a separate Board of Directors.