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

Posted By Becky Dryden, 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 share@wocn.org

     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 

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Guest Blogger: OstomyConnection

Posted By Lauren Schoener-Gaynor, Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Christine Kim, OstomyConnection Founder, blogger and content marketer, was kind enough to write an amazing blog for the WOCN Society, highlighting the 2015 Conference. 

I had the honor of attending the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse (WOCN®) Society’s 47th Annual Conference in San Antonito, TX.

This event was created for nurses to gain insights from industry leaders, develop new skills, network with fellow WOC professionals, and earn continuing education credits.

It was incredible meeting nurses from across the country, hearing incredible stories and learning more about their vital role in caring for ostomy patients.

Here are a few inspiring messages WOC Nurses want you to know…

"The stoma can and often does make you healthy again, but it does not make you any more or any less of a person. Do not allow the stoma to define who you are."
– Coleen Potts, CWOCN, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. Ileostomy since 1991

"You’re not going to welcome it (ostomy) with open arms, but someday you’re going to look at it differently and appreciate what its done for your life, I know I did. You and me together, we're gonna do this."
– Margaret Goldberg, CWOCN, Delray Wound Treatment Center, Florida. Ileostomy since 1969

"You are stronger than you think. You already have the life experience to cope with adversity and challenges, just draw upon those "tools" to give you the resiliency you need to be in charge of your ostomy, and not let the ostomy be in charge of you!"
– Rita Whitney, CWOCN, Medical Center of Lewisville, Texas

WOC Nurses have a pledge, it's ostomy care. They are highly prepared experts who treat complex wounds, ostomy issues, and incontinence.

WOC Nurses have a passion, it's patients. They hear our voices when we call. They’ll be a shoulder when we cry. And when our hope is gone, they’re near. It makes no difference who you are, they’re our angels.

They know all we need is time, give us hope for better days and they won't dare let us give up the fight.

Sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to all WOC Nurses for their dedication to caring for ostomates.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a wound that won't heal, facing ostomy surgery, or having problems with incontinence…you deserve a WOC Nurse!

Find a wound, ostomy and continence nurse in your area HERE.

Tags:  nurses  nursing  ostomy  stoma  WOC nurse  wocn 

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Enhance Your Practice with WOCN Publications

Posted By Brian Price, Tuesday, April 28, 2015
One of the many benefits that the WOCN Society offers nurses is access to information that allows them to further educate themselves throughout their career.

For example, the Society recently updated its Discharge Planning for a Patient with a New Ostomy document. The document, a comprehensive discharge plan for patients with new ostomies, educates nurses on basic ostomy skills. The purpose of the updated document is to provide clinicians with a quick guide to the essential elements of a discharge plan, which may be used to facilitate patient education and transitions of care.

Nurses who have purchased the document have raved about it:

"I personally feel it is a very helpful, concise handout that would be of great benefit to those at an entry level to ostomy care and the related discharge planning. I plan to incorporate it into my orientation of staff and student nurses.” – Sue Gluek, RN, CWON, The Community Hospital

"In a nutshell, this has been a great tool for other staff to reference when I am away, including how to get supplies, where to obtain them and what the patient needs. I am usually the only one that pre-orders supplies for patients, as I am the only ET for inpatient and outpatient care. When on vacation, there is a great disconnect.

Acute care nurses don’t know what should be provided, from where, and they have the misconception that home care ALWAYS provides supplies. Social service doesn’t know what to order (lack of knowledge in ostomy care). This guideline has provided detailed information for staff nurses when I am not available. Great job!” – Lori Lynne, Nurse Manager of an outpatient wound clinic associated with Meadville Medical Center.

"The publication "Discharge Planning for a Patient with a New Ostomy” has been a great resource. With this new publication, I have been able to update our Ostomy Care Policy, educate Case Managers concerning discharge plan, train new WOC nurses concerning ostomy care and provide tips for patients. The benefits from owning this publication have improved my practice by being able to stay current with information, improving processes to promote the continuum of care for patients with ostomies and being able to provide the best care possible.” - Tyree Fender, RN, CWOCN, CFCN, Confluence Health.

The document helps both non-WOC nurses and new WOC nurses by providing a guideline to ensure that a comprehensive ostomy education is done for a patient with a new ostomy before being discharged. The document features information on ordering ostomy supplies, ostomy manufacturers and support resources that are helpful with the transitions of care from hospital to home.

For more information or to purchase Discharge Planning for a Patient with a New Ostomy members click here. Nonmembers click here.

Tags:  ostomy 

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Guest Blogger: Stolen Colon

Posted By Lauren Schoener-Gaynor, Monday, November 10, 2014

The first time I saw my stoma

It’s a very strange feeling to wake up after a major surgery and to find something foreign attached to your body. And I knew it was going to be there. (I can’t imagine what it would be like for those who went into emergency surgery and did not know what they were going to wake up with.) But I have to admit, I was pretty good at ignoring the bag that was hanging off of my stomach for a few days, before it was active and when the floor nurses were taking care of emptying it.

But then came the day when the WOC nurses came to see me.

Prior to my surgery, I had been given a lot of information about the surgery and about ostomies and I was also given an ostomy bag to take home. And sure, I held it up to my stomach to see where it would hang, but I didn’t actually stick it onto myself or practice cutting the opening. So when the WOC nurses came to see me, it was all new.

I remember so well that moment they pulled off the bag and there it was: my stoma. The first time I had really seen it, other than a few glances at this red circle inside my new bag. I could see how big it was and how far it stuck out of my stomach and how… scary it was. I think I held my breath for the first minute, but I kept it together while the nurses were there, trying to focus on asking them any questions that I had. My ostomy was pretty active during this first changing, so I just dove right into some of the difficulties with managing one. The WOC nurses were great and showed me how to clean the area and about some of the accessories that would help me take care of it.

But once they had gone, I broke down. I sat there with my husband standing next to me and just cried. It was the first moment of feeling like “what have I done?” and being truly scared of how this would impact the rest of my life. Even as I’m writing this, I feel the tears coming to my eyes because I remember so well that feeling of loss and of helplessness in that moment. But I don’t think the nurses realized exactly how I was feeling. I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding pain and emotions over the years.

And I really did have great nurses all along the way. The nurse I had before my surgery spent a lot of time with me and walked me through the process of picking my stoma spot. I previously thought that my stoma would be low, as in below my pant line. She took the time to explain to me about placement and why it matters. She helped me to understand why the spot we picked was the best spot. And I still think it is.

After the surgery, I had two nurses who came to see me and help me with that first bag change. They came back a day or two later and let me change it so I could get used to doing it, but they were there to help me figure it out and remember all of the steps. They were kind and open to any questions I had about the bag itself and about living with it.

Even after going home, during one of my first bag changes I saw some blood, which of course freaked me out. I called the WOCN department and someone told me that it was entirely normal to see some blood, but if it got worse to come back to see them. She helped alleviate my fears and that was actually the only call I ended up making.

I know I’m not the only one who has felt lost coming out of surgery. And that’s what I want others to understand. When someone goes through this surgery where a part of them is taken away, it’s almost like a death in the family. You immediately feel like your life is changed and there’s no going back to the way it was. A piece of you is forever gone. That’s a hard reality to come to terms with.

And that's what I think is so important for the people taking care of these individuals to understand. Even if the patient is very prepared for this surgery and even excited about going through with it, nothing can prepare you for what it’s like immediately afterwards, when you’re in a lot of pain and on a lot of medications and there’s this squishy red thing hanging out of your stomach. So understand that they are likely having a difficult time adjusting.

Keep telling these people know they are not alone. There is a great support group out there, both in-person and online. Reinforce that there are lots of bag choices and they don’t have to stare through a clear window at their poop for the rest of their lives if they don’t want to. Keep helping them discover all of the great places to look for tips and tricks on living with an ostomy.

But mostly, just keep taking the time. Take the time to help them feel comfortable and try to understand what they are dealing with. Take the time to talk with them about how placement of the stoma may affect their experience. Take the time to make them feel like they are the most important person in the world. This may be just another day for you, but for us, it's the day that changes everything.

Stephanie is the creator of The Stolen Colon, a blog and website entirely about living with an ostomy. 

Tags:  nurses  nursing  ostomy  WOC nurse  WOCN 

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The Wound Treatment Associate (WTA®) Program Provides Fundamental Wound Care Training

Posted By Lauren Schoener-Gaynor, Monday, October 27, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Wound Treatment Associate (WTA®) Program Provides Fundamental Wound Care Training

 

If you’re a non-specialty licensed wound care provider, a medic or corpsmen looking to enhance your professional skills, the WOCN Society® has just what you need!

 

The WOCN Society developed the WTA® Program, a continuing education activity, which prepares a non-WOC certified professional to provide optimal care for patients with acute and chronic wounds under the direction of a WOC specialty nurse, WOC APRN, or physician. Under the direction of a WOC specialty nurse, the program features online lectures, PowerPoint slides and written final examinations and skills testing. This online course is designed to be completed in three months and offers 21.0 contact hours upon competition. It is currently being offered nation-wide locations.

 

Don’t worry, if the WTA Program isn’t offered near you or at your current institution. If you’re interested in the course being offered at your institution, you need to identify a qualified WOC nurse (it could be you!) who would serve as the Course Coordinator. Then, highlight the benefits of the WTA program to administrators at your health care system or hospital. For resources on the program benefits, check out the marketing toolkit which provides interested parties with an introduction to the WTA Program, a letter to send to decision makers and a presentation for administrators.

 

Once program is successfully completed, WTA graduates can find additional resources to enhance their professional development on the WTA website, while current WOCN members can discuss issues and share information on the WTA member forum. If you’re interested in becoming a WOCN member, check out the membership benefits.

 

View the video below for a quick course tutorial that highlights the benefits of the WTA Program! If you would like additional information on the WTA Program, visit www.wta.org, browse the FAQs or email wta@wocn.org with any questions.

 

Tags:  ostomy  WOCN  wounds  WTA  WTA program 

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