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Ostomy Patient Working Toward Becoming Ostomy Nurse

Posted By Jenna Bertini, Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The content in this blog was provided by Charlotte Rensberger, Blog Coordinator at Girls with Guts

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and had my first ostomy as a teenager. As if pimples, periods, and boobs weren’t enough to deal with, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was now pooping from a hole in my stomach. At that time, I was treated by an adult surgeon and placed into an adult shared room. My WOC nurse then made it clear that not only did she not take care of many pediatric patients but that she also did not particularly enjoy them. I had nothing but trouble with that ostomy, and probably have some PTSD related to that experience. After nine months, I was able to get my j-pouch and leave that ostomy in the past.

Fast forward to 2015 and a failing j-pouch. I was so sick. I drove from southwest Michigan to the University of Chicago for a second opinion. That’s where I met Michele Kaplon-Jones, my new WOC nurse. I met her pre-surgery, where she did a ton of teaching, tear wiping, and hand holding. It was such a struggle to get past all the negative thoughts I had from my teenage experiences. But Michele set the stage during my first encounter with her, and I believe she prepared me for success… even if the surgery didn’t go well. I don’t have a great memory of those first few days; but I do remember Michele checking in on me every day—even when I didn’t have any medical needs for a WOC nurse to take care of.

"That’s where I met... my new WOC nurse. I met her pre-surgery, where she did a ton of teaching, tear wiping, and hand holding."

I live about 2.5 hours away from Michele’s clinic. I have been working to establish a local care team, but I just can’t give her up!! Michele's demeanor is one that just makes you want to be genuine with her. I feel like I can share anything without judgement. My stoma gives me trouble occasionally and requires a lot of convexity. Michele still checks on meeven from afar via email. She gives me so much encouragement and confidence, that the inconvenience of the 2.5 drive to see her is priceless.

I have also found support through a group called Girls With Guts (GWG). Since GWG began in 2012, it has empowered thousands of women with irritable bowel disease (IBD) and/or an ostomy. Through Girls With Guts, IBD patients can learn the latest medical updates. The organization also gathers supplies that can be sent to women in need. You often see new ostomates connect with veteran ostomates to find out that life doesn’t end with a stoma.

Like many, I developed close friendships and bonded with women who experienced the same pain, questions, and frustrations I had. When I go to our private online forum on Facebook, I know someone in the group had something happen to them that I can relate to. These experiences are invaluable for my well-being and future.

Charlotte_winnie_ostomyI am now a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. After reading post after post from Girls With Guts, it is clear we need more experienced and caring WOC nurses. After surgery, ostomates often feel alone—but they don’t have to feel that way. I learned that from my WOC nurse's compassionate care. So, I started looking into becoming a certified WOC nurse last year. I was accepted into the Rutgers University School of Nursing-Camend Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Education Program, and am now waiting to start my courses.

" is clear we need more experienced and caring WOC nurses."

I now have a permanent ostomy and am thankful I met Michele early on this journey. I need her and am relieved to know she’s only a phone call away. I can only hope that, at some point, I become the top notch WOC nurse that Michele is for me and to so many other ostomates. 

Charlotte Rensberger is from Battle Creek, Michigan. She has been battling Crohn's disease since she was 16 years old and has a permanent ileostomy at age 36. She has been married for 13 years and has two school aged children who keep her busy. Charlotte is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who currently works in a community hospital's newborn nursery. In her spare time, she bakes, refinishes furniture, buys antiques, crafts, and sings with her church's worship band.

Tags:  ostomy 

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Help Us Celebrate YOU!

Posted By Kristin Petty, Thursday, February 20, 2020

Did you know that the World Health Organization officially named 2020 the International Year of the Nurse & Midwife? This decision was made in order to celebrate the impact nurses' make throughout the world, highlight the challenges they face, and advocate for increased investments in the nursing workforce. 

Help us celebrate YOU! We want to highlight our members' stories in upcoming emails, on social media, on our website, through videos and our WOCTalk podcast episodes. If you've faced and overcome challenges, received an award or recognition, advocated for the specialty and your patients, provided your expertise through service learning trips, we want to hear from you! Tell us your story and help us show the world how WOC nurses are making a difference.

Share Your Story


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Women Helping Women: Nurse's Ostomy Journey

Posted By Jenna Bertini, Friday, February 14, 2020

The content in this blog was provided by Manda Barger, Secretary of Girls with Guts

Rachel-BadovickRachel Badovick is a certified acute care pediatric nurse practitioner. So when she underwent a total colectomy in 2019 she felt familiar with basic ostomy care. However, she began to have complications while healing. It was in this dark moment of crisis that she found the support system she needed to survive.

Badovick was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 24. This form of inflammable bowel disease, also known as IBD, causes inflammation and ulcers along the large intestine. She was able to finish graduate school; but after years of failed treatment, hospitalizations, and illness, she decided to get an ileostomy. She says she did meet a WOC nurse before her surgery to go over basic care. Badovick explained, “I’m a nurse myself, so I’ve changed plenty of ostomy appliances in my career, so this was more of a refresher for me.”

After her surgery, Badovick met another WOC nurse. Due to the extremely personalized care given, Badovick is calling her nurse “B” for this story. Badovick said, “B came in to go over a last-minute ostomy teaching and ended up spending an hour in my room talking with me about all the insecurities I had about living with an ostomy... Something about her personality just instantly clicked with me, and I felt so comfortable and at ease talking with her.”

Badovick began having issues soon after her colectomy. Once when she took off the dressing, she found two open wounds around her stoma. “The pain was so severe, I almost passed out taking off the dressing. I went to the emergency room, and the next morning the dermatology team diagnosed me with another autoimmune disorder called pyoderma gangrenosum.”

The Colorectal Surgery Department out of the Cleveland Clinic describes parastomal pyoderma gangrenosum as an autoinflammatory skin issue that causes painful ulcerations around the stoma. A WOC nurse was scheduled to give wound care. Badovick says she felt instant relief to be back in B’s care. “B performed my wound care with extreme patience and gentleness, despite me screaming and crying in pain.”

B gave Badovick her cell phone number for assistance, but Badovick ultimately was not be able to manage care by herself at home. She was also denied home health care. She and her surgeon didn’t know what to do until Badovick realized, “since I am a nurse, I have lots of nurse friends. I came up with the idea that they could learn how to perform my dressing changes. So, one evening several of them came to my hospital room and B showed them how to change my dressing. I was able to go home!”

Badovick’s support system grew even more. Once the WOC nurses at her work heard what was going on, they offered help too. Badovick said, “so, for the past 3.5 months, the WOC nurses at my job have volunteered their time to perform every other day, and sometimes every single day, dressing changes. They have come to my house for emergency dressing changes, and I have even been invited to their homes for emergency dressing changes.”

These nurses are a part of a larger support system Badovick found. Before her surgery, she found an Instagram page that lead her to the Girls With Guts Facebook page and forum. Since the page is ran by women with IBD or an ostomy, Badovick says she found sisterhood. She says “even if I just briefly glance at their content while aimlessly scrolling social media, it’s just an everyday reminder that there is a whole community of women who know what I’m going through. It can help me not feel so alone.”

She says Girls With Guts, called GWG for short, also empowered her. She describes that IBD patients and ostomates often feel less than, powerless, and lonely. “GWG encourages us to be strong, but also reminds us to give ourselves grace when we are sick and physically and emotionally unwell.”

The healing process isn’t over for Badovick. Her pyoderma gangrenosum isn’t completely healed and she still sees a WOC nurse about every day. That hasn’t kept her from looking ahead. She works part time in pediatric pain and palliative care and appears to no longer have digestion issues. She credits that to B and the WOC nurses she works with. She says with their compassion and expertise, they saved her from physical and emotional pain while allowing her to stay out of a skilled nursing facility. She adds, “they have celebrated my progress with me, and mourned my setbacks with me. They have shown me the kindness and compassion that every single nurse should strive to exemplify. And the thing is, they are helping me as friends, and not as a patient.”

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Exciting news from the WOCN Society Education Committee: New Certification Review Courses Now Available!

Posted By Kristin Petty, Thursday, January 30, 2020

I am pleased to announce the launch of the WOCN® Society’s brand-new certification review courses in wound, ostomy, and continence.  The Education Committee is particularly excited to launch each of these new courses, as we feel that they address the needs of individuals preparing for their 1st or even 5th certification exam.  We have all been there and remember the anxiety of board certification and want our members to have the best resources to complement their brain banks with course information to be successful. This project involved in-depth research to address and close any gaps of information that you will need to sit for certification or re-certification. 

What's New

Those who purchase the courses will notice the use of different media styles throughout each course; these new features were added to match each learner with the style that best fits their learning needs.  We are also very pleased and excited to bring different speakers to highlight the information on each of the scopes of practice.  We could not have put together this project without their perspective and expertise. 

Key Highlights of Our New Certification Review Courses

  • All three courses follow the exam content outlines that can be found in the WOCNCB's Certification Exam Handbook and include information about how to prepare for the exams, along with test-taking tips.
  • Each course includes study questions that test knowledge and comprehension--available within the presentation and via a downloadable supplement!
  • Each course includes downloadable resources as well as audio presentations and links to additional tools to make studying easy to do on-the-go.
  • All courses are available for Contact Hours and feature presentations by leading experts in the WOC nursing field.

Why Certification?

Certification is important to market our skill sets to the populations that we serve. We know that your journey has been intense and stressful to get to this point.  We all hear you….and we want to give you what you need to succeed.  Once you are (re)certified, then the sky is the limit with what you can do.  Board certification gives the credibility to you and the service that you give to your colleagues and patients.  It gives you the opportunity to market your skills to others and educate them to join our incredible knowledge base of WOC nursing.

Whether you are preparing for certification or re-certification, good luck! 

Zoe Bishop, BSN, RN, CWOCN
WOCN Society Education Committee Chair


Wound Certification Review Course

3.93 Contact Hours 
This course provides basic content based on the WOCNCB® wound testing domain, including wound management, pressure injuries, lower extremity diseases, and other types of wounds.

Ostomy Certification Review Course

2.77 Contact Hours 
This course provides basic content based on the WOCNCB® ostomy testing domain, including fecal and urinary diversion.


ContinenceContinence Certification Review Course

3.8 Contact Hours, 0.17 Pharmacology Credits
This course provides basic content based on the WOCNCB® continence testing domain, including fundamental concepts of continence nursing.

Tags:  certification  continence  coursestudy  education  ostomy  WOCN  wound 

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Get to Know Our Keynote Speaker Angela Gaffney, CHC

Posted By Kristin Petty, Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Angela Gaffney Banner

Introducing the WOCNext 2020 Keynote Speaker

Angela GaffneyAngela Gaffney, CHC, is the President of Essential Health & Wellness, a firm focused on building healthy communities and organizations. As an international wellness speakerconsultant and author, she and her team have supported clients through inspiring keynotes, corporate consulting, executive retreats, and unique wellness programming. Listen to her sneak peek video and learn how you can win a chance to meet her in-person at WOCNext 2020!

Win Free Registration to WOCNext 2020!

Enter our MyWOCNext Video Contest and you could be selected to receive a FREE registration to WOCNext 2020 in Cleveland, June 7-10. Entering is easy and can be done with a few simple clicks.
What wellness tips are you excited to learn about from our keynote speaker Angela Gaffney? What are you looking forward to the most at WOCNext 2020? What do you hope to learn at WOCNext 2020 that you can bring back to your facility?
Let us know by selecting the appropriate button below, creating a login and using the code: woc20 to get started on uploading your video clips today!

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Need help getting started? Click here to learn more.

Fast Facts About Angela

  • Angela loves being involved in her community, she's coached little league football, soccer and basketball and leads a women's group for her church.
  • Angela's top three outdoor activities include hiking, snowshoeing on a sunny day, and enjoying time at the beach.
  • One of Angela's favorite self-care activities is hot yoga, she practices about 3 times a week.

Want to learn more about Angela and her keynote session? 
Listen to our latest WOCTalk podcast episode!

Connect with Angela


Tags:  2020  MyWOCN  Video contest  WOCN annual meeting  wocnext 

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