Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join
Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society Blog
Blog Home All Blogs
If you have a great topic that you would like to share with your colleagues, or if you are unsure of what you can write about, email Marketing Coordinator Jenna Bertini at and she will help get you started!


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: WOCN  woc nurse  nursing  ostomy  nurse  WOCN Society  nursing student  2015 conference  membership  nurses  ostomate  surgery  3M award  3M Award for excellence in skin safety  annual conference  conference  continence  education  NSNA  specialty  stoma  WOC  WTA  WTA Program  2014 conference  advice  advocate  bsn  cancer  care 

WOCN Society Member Highlights Experience Presenting at the 2016 National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) Conference

Posted By Jenna A. Bertini, Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2016

WOCN Society member, Teri Robinson, RN, BSN, CWON, shared her recent experience about presenting educational sessions at the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) Conference in Orlando, Florida.

You can read Teri's story below, and if you have a story you would like to share please email us at

It was a great opportunity to present at NSNA in Orlando this year. I was able to meet a student board member and the editor. It was very impressive to see the new generation of nurses active in nursing.  Their excitement and passion validated why I chose this career and why I still love it!

I presented two sessions on “Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses: Who we are and what we do”.  Both sessions were extremely well attended. The first session was completely full and the second was ¾ full.  I had great questions from the audience during and after the presentations.  These included flexibility of the role, the schools offered, and private practice opportunities.  This was a very rewarding experience. I am thankful for the opportunity to share the varied roles Nursing can offer, especially WOC nursing specialty.

Tags:  NSNA  nursing  nursing student  WOC  woc nurse  WOCN  WOCN Society 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Share Your Story: How my Own WOC Nurses Inspired my Passion

Posted By Becky Carroll, Monday, January 4, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 7, 2016

We asked members to share their story about why they are passionate about WOC nursing. WOCN Society member, Heather Brigstock, ADN, RN, shared her incredible journey of how the care from her WOC nurses inspired her to pursue a career in WOC nursing. You can read Heather's story below and if you have a story you'd like to share please email us at

     On May 2, 2001, I underwent a total proctocolectomy resulting in a permanent ileostomy. I was 22 years old and 4 years into my battle with Crohn’s Disease. My first experience with a WOC nurse was my preoperative appointment for site marking. At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was to get a preoperative visit with a WOC nurse. I didn’t even know what a WOC nurse was. But during those first days of recovery in the hospital, I figured out very quickly that the WOC nurse was my lifeline. I tried to listen and retain everything I was taught in the hospital, but between the pain, nausea and orthostatic hypotension, I still went home feeling overwhelmed. The day I got home, I had a dehiscence of my abdominal incision. It was draining copious amounts of fluid, and was very scary. My home WOC nurse, Zora Hocking, was there right away. She taught my family how to pack my wound and we embarked on a long and slow process of wound healing. I was 95 pounds at 5 feet, 8 inches tall. My WOC nurse stressed the importance of my nutrition in my healing. On top of all of this, I kept having leaks under the wafer of my ileostomy appliance. I felt like I was falling apart. Zora switched me to a different pouching system-the system I still use to this day, because it is the only one I can wear without leaking. Something as simple as making the leaks stop was a huge boost in my confidence level. I could leave the house with confidence for the first time to go to my appointments. Slowly, my abdominal wound healed and I adjusted to life with an ileostomy. I gained some weight, was discharged from home care and returned to work.

     Over the next few years, I went back to school to complete my prerequisites for nursing school and I got pregnant with my first baby. After delivering my baby daughter, I was visited by a WOC nurse, Marsha Connelly, to check in and make sure I was doing well. I had no complications from the pregnancy or delivery, but about six months later my stoma retracted. I started having leaks and my pouch life went from seven days to 12 hours. I didn’t know what to do and there were no outpatient WOC nurses in my area, so I called Zora and asked for help. After she assessed me, she knew I needed to go see a surgeon for revision. The day after the final in my anatomy class, I went in for a revision which turned into a bowel resection as well.  Marsha was my WOC nurse in the hospital and she helped me adjust to this new stoma in a new location. She and Zora were tasked with getting me up and running within two weeks of surgery-my summer chemistry class was starting. Somehow, they did just that. I was able to get to the first day of my chemistry class; I had steri-strips still on my abdomen, but I made it.

     Soon after, I was an official nursing student. The most rewarding experience I had in nursing school was taking care of a new ostomate. My patient was struggling and would not even look at the ostomy or acknowledge that it was there. I asked him if he would like to know what I like about having an ostomy. In that moment, I could see a wall come down in his eyes. “You mean you have an ostomy?” he asked. I nodded and smiled. “But I couldn’t even tell!” he told me. “No, and no one will be able to tell you have an ostomy either” I responded. By the end of that shift, he was emptying his pouch independently. Just knowing that he wasn’t alone was enough. The experience of taking care of a new ostomate lit a fire inside me. I knew that I had found my passion, but I was overwhelmed being a new nurse and any additional education seemed out of reach. When I graduated from nursing school, I had my second baby girl and went to work as a new nurse.

     Several years passed by and I experienced a severe relapse of my Crohn’s disease. On top of this, my stoma was retracting again. By this point, I had two young daughters who were quite proficient in ostomy care. At times, they would wear one of my pouches to “look like Mommy.” Due to the disease and the retracted stoma, I had to undergo another bowel resection and stoma revision. Once again, Zora was by my side, helping me adjust to yet another stoma in yet another location.

     I have now had my ileostomy for almost 15 years. The same WOC nurses have taken care of me that entire time. It is like seeing old friends who have coached me along a very long journey. If I didn’t have the care of amazing WOC nurses, I would never have had my children and I would never have had the confidence to go to school. This August, I will graduate with my Master of Science in Nursing from the University of San Francisco. Immediately after graduation, I will be starting a WOC Nursing Education Program. My area of focus in school has been the long term support of ostomy patients. Without WOC nurses, there would be no long term support for patients like myself. Like the patient I took care of when I was a student years ago, we all have a need to feel understood. WOC nurses are the only people we can turn to when we have a complication. All patients with chronic health needs deserve to have competent care, ostomy patients like myself deserve to have access to a WOC nurse. Nothing less will do.   

Heather Brigstock, ADN, RN

Tags:  Nursing  Ostomy  WOC nurse  WOCN  WOCN Society 

Share |
PermalinkComments (3)

Coming Up Short: The Need for Nurses

Posted By Lauren Schoener-Gaynor, Monday, October 5, 2015

Nursing School Hub shared its newest infographic explaining the need for nurses with The Society.

Nursing School Hub was formed  to provide useful information and resources to those interested in the field of Nursing. Nursing is a rapidly growing field with many promising opportunities for employment. The Nursing School Hub staff felt it was important to create a site that provides accurate information to help those interested in nursing to make an informed decision about what nursing job suits them and where to go to school.

Over the next decade, it is predicted the U.S. will see a significant shortage of nurses in the healthcare industry. As many nurses retire, their shoes of many of them aren’t being filled. With the need for qualified nurses expanding each year, how can we combat the coming scarcity of well-trained RNs?

The Need for Nurses

Tags:  nurse  nurses  nursing  WOC nurse 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Guest Bloggers Highlight Experience at Home Care Association of Florida (HCAF)

Posted By Lauren Schoener-Gaynor, Tuesday, August 18, 2015

WOCN Society members Debbie Ritter and Sue Kennedy guest blog and highlight their recent experience at the Home Care Association of Florida (HCAF) Conference in Orlando, Florida.

We recently had the opportunity to represent WOCN Society by staffing an exhibit booth at the Home Care Association of Florida (HCAF) Conference in Orlando, Florida. As first-time conference exhibitors it was interesting to be "on the other side of the table," and we were a bit nervous about the role switch.

Although we believed that we were well prepared, we wondered whether our booth would generate enough interest to have people stop, and if so, what their interest level would be.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the attendees had made the exhibit a priority as their first stop after reading the list of exhibitors. For those who did not plan ahead of time, the WTA and CEC banners generated a high level of interest among the "foot traffic" and many attendees stopped to inquire about the WTA program and how this program would fit into their education strategy.

The level of interest fell mostly into two categories:

a) As a field clinician, how would this program and certification assist me to bring a higher level of care to my patients and enhance my employment opportunities and;

b) As a Branch Manager, DON, or Administrator, how would this program improve our outcomes, boost our referrals and what type of return on investment might we realize.

Overall, the two issues that were most exciting to the attendees were the opportunity for certification which will be offered in the fall through the WOCNCB and the value of the program as compared to other wound certification programs.

It was a great opportunity to explain how the WOCN Society has developed a comprehensive and evidence based program that is applicable across the continuum of health care, and provides standardized education while promoting continuity of patient care. Also, it was encouraging to see the high level of interest from clinicians and managers who recognize the impact of the program as it relates to ICD 10 coding and the changing reimbursement climate among Medicare and other insurers.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  HCAF  nursing  woc nurse  WOCN 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Guided Nursing Electives----Wound Care at Roper Hospital

Posted By Lauren Schoener-Gaynor, Thursday, July 30, 2015

The following post was written by Xiang Liu, a student at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Ever since I enrolled in the BSN program, I have heard a lot about specialized nursing. I became interested in wound care right after I did my first “wet to dry” dressing change in the Simulation lab.

Wound care is a science and is accompanied by its own pathology, language, nursing skill set and patient education. Fortunately, the Guided Nursing Electives course at Medical University of South Carolina gave me an opportunity to better understand wound care, and I was blessed with wonderful mentors and preceptors who provided me with a great start for becoming a wound care nurse.

By working with my mentor at Roper Hospital, SC, I saw a variety of wounds, I acquired knowledge and skills relative to management of wounds, incisions, skin ulcers and ostomies. I noted the different types of dressings and the different practices in day to day performance. I realized how medical complications could be prevented by providing patient education and by simply proper hand washing and infection control.  I observed how my mentor changed dressings, how she handled wounds; more importantly, I was fascinated by how she interacts with patients, patients’ families and how she applies her global nursing skills. She is not only a great role model for wound care, she is also a role model to me personally with respect to becoming an excellent nurse in general. 

I have gained additional learning experiences in this rotation.

First of all, I became familiar with ostomy and continence management. When I first studied ostomies, I believed no surgical procedure created more misunderstanding and fear than this one does. Through the time with my mentor, I gained a wealth of knowledge related to ostomy care).  First I learned that ostomies are not only from some colon cancer procedures, other bowel diseases such as diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease and even traumatic injury to the bowels may also require an ostomy. I learned that an ostomy can be temporary or permanent. I learned that there are a variety of ostomy procedures including colostomy and ileostomy depending on the location of the disease. I learned how to manage the stoma as well as pouches. On top of this, I realized how important it is for an ostomy nurse to be present for pre- and post-surgical management of the patient.

Every Monday morning, I followed my mentor to mark the stoma sites for the patients who were scheduled to have bowel surgery. We assessed their abdomen in order to decide where the stoma should be. We made every effort to help the doctor create the stoma in an area that the patient can easily see, reach and take care of. Stoma site selection was a priority during the preoperative preparation; it helps to reduce postoperative problems including leakage, skin irritation, and clothing concerns. Furthermore, we also assist patients and their family in understanding about stoma care and the use of ostomy appliances prior to surgery.

Having an ostomy is a life changing experience for many patients, but patients should still be able to work, play sports, and exercise. This indicates another important role of an ostomy nurse: an ostomy nurse is the one who provides continuous personalized care for the best outcome possible; we are the one who guides the patient to maintain their healthy active lifestyle.

At the end, I was so fortunate and was privileged to observe the physician (Dr. Lagares-Garcia) performing laparoscopic robotic bowel surgery.  This helped me to integrate my experiences and knowledge into a complete picture and was invaluable.

Second, I learned that excellent wound care means treating the whole patient, not just the wound. For example, we had a patient who was young but had an abscess that refused to heal. The patient has a long history of diabetes and obesity.   During the conversation with him, my mentor identified several inconsistencies:  the patient stated that he was living with his sister, but when he was asked if he has been checking his blood sugar routinely, he said he has been using his brother’s glucose meter.  We understand that people with diabetes often have poor circulation which causes slow healing. My mentor suspected that his blood sugar had not been well controlled which was contributing to his poor wound healing process. “No fancy dressing could help his wound, if he doesn’t treat his underlying problem”, my mentor said. Understanding these interlinked causes, a diabetic educator was suggested to facilitate him controlling his weight and to regain control of his diabetes. Successful treatment of difficult wounds requires assessment of the entire patient. Systemic problems impair wound healing, in fact, non-healing wounds may reveal systemic pathologies.

Third, the term 'palliative care' is used to describe care given to patients with advanced, life-limiting illness. The palliative care goals are then transferred to wound care for patients whose wounds do not heal. We had a patient who was 89 year old with a complicated medical history: above the knee amputations on both legs, diabetes mellitus, peripheral vascular disease, dementia, malnutrition, and problems with swallowing. The patient had multiple ulcers staged from I to IV. A couple of her ulcers were undermining and/or tunneling.  Based on the patient’s situation, my mentor suggested that the Palliative Wound Management might be more appropriate on this patient. She explained, “With the patient physical condition like this, aggressive wound treatment is not the priority intervention since the healing is not the primary goal. The goals of current wound care intervention (called palliative wound care) are stabilization of existing wounds, prevention of new wounds and symptom management.”

Finally, I discovered that finding new methods to improve wound healing have a great value in the clinical settings. This is another reason that I have passion for wound care since I have many years of research training in cancer biology. Specifically I believe that wound care is a clinical area that requires critical thinking and experimental approaches. Although there are a wide range of topical management options in wound management, choosing the most appropriate dressing makes a huge difference on the process of healing. Moreover, patients with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, paralysis and many other illnesses contribute to wounds development that needs specialized care. “Effective dressing requires a stable “base”, my mentor said, implementation of personalized topical therapeutics guided by molecular diagnosis may result in significant improvements in outcome and my expertise in examining biological problems and finding solutions promotes me to be very interested in the science of wound care.

Overall, my experience in wound, ostomy and continence during the Guided Nursing Electives has given me an opportunity to witness how and what the WOC nurse should be and to understand the importance of treating the whole patient during wound care therapy. Wound care nurses must possess specialized wound care knowledge as well as a solid understanding of general nursing concepts, patient care, anatomy and physiology, and even psychological aspects of the patient. Wound care nurses are an extremely important part of the treatment team who make an enormous difference in the quality of patients’ lives by delivering expert care to individuals with wounds, ostomies and incontinence and by provide continuous care to help patients return to daily life and healthy lifestyles.

By writing this reflection paper, I am sharing how the experience improved my knowledge of wound care, and more significantly how it impacts my belief that nurses can make changes. 

Before attending nursing school, I spent 15 years carrying out human disease related diagnostic and preclinical drug development research. This research provided me with a strong medical science background, but also has led to my realization that findings from basic research need translation into practical applications to prevent, diagnose and treat human disease. In my opinion, more than any other healthcare profession, nurses know what patients need, know what to do to meet those needs and how to make a difference. Having now graduated with my BSN, coupled with my previous research training, enables me to apply critical thinking skills to clinical settings. This integration raises me to a higher level allowing me to address complex questions and problems in critical care, especially in improving healthcare outcomes and preventing disease.


Tags:  BSN  nursing  nursing student  WOC nurse  woc student  WOCN 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
Page 1 of 3
1  |  2  |  3

Copyright 2017 Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society™. All rights reserved.

The WOCN® Society is professionally managed by Association Headquarters, a charter accredited association management company.

The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society is accredited with distinction as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP 15115.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: The names and contact information for all individuals listed on this site is privileged, confidential information and intended for specific purposes. No one (individual or company) may use any contact information on the WOCN Society website to contact, to distribute information to, or solicit anyone for any reason other than the intended purpose for which the name and contact information is available.