If you or a loved one is suffering from a wound that won’t heal, facing ostomy surgery, or having problems with incontinence, you deserve a Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) nurse. Evidence shows that patients in facilities with WOC nurses, had significantly better outcomes, compared to those without WOC nurses.1


WOC nurses are expert clinicians who treat complex wounds, ostomy issues, and incontinence. WOC nursing is one of the few specialties recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA), signifying that WOC nursing adheres to the high standards cultivated by the ANA. Watch these videos to learn why you or your loved one deserves a WOC nurse.


1. Westra, B. L., Bliss, D.Z., Savik, K., Hou, Y., & Borchert, A. (2013). Effectiveness of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses on Agency-Level Wound and Incontinence Outcomes in Home Care. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs, 40(1), 25-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/WON.0b013e31827bcc4fp

Patient Testimonials

My WOC Nurse is My Savior | Don and Pamela A.

In January 2017, my wife and I were traveling back from California to Colorado on vacation and had stopped in Las Vegas due to weather conditions. We had to stay there for a few days to wait it out. I started having stomach pains and it got bad enough to go to the emergency room at 5:00 am, where I was admitted and then within a couple of hours in the operating room for surgery.

They found a tear in my colon that had repaired itself, so they cleaned me out and put me back together. Ten days later, still in the hospital, they had to open me back up and cut out some of my intestines and give me an ostomy.

While in the Vegas hospital, no one knew what to do or what I needed to do. The nurses changed my bag, but without any information. I was released from the hospital seven days later and we were sent on our way, and was told to “check in with your doctor back home.”

Ten days later, we met our savior nurse Amy Lasley, BSN, RN, CWOCN, CFCN. I know – a lot of letters, but what it doesn’t say is how great she is. She first took a look at me and immediately called in another doctor because I had a dead stoma. The Vegas hospital sent me home this way. The two of them put their heads together and formed a game plan to get me on track. They cut out the dead portion, sized me for the correct bags and walked us through how to deal with and handle this new way of life. It took us about two weeks to figure out what to do, how to make adjustments and get everything situated. There were many visits, calls and tears during this time and she got me through it. She was able to make my wife comfortable with all that needed to be done.

I really don’t think I would have survived without Amy. If she didn’t take action the ostomy would have closed off and I would not be here today.

She held my hand and made me feel everything was going to be fine.

I should also mention that two months after the 1st surgery, we had to leave town for our business and would be 400 miles away from any hospital or any doctors. Amy made sure we were ready for the trip and had everything we needed.

Amy gave me her personal number to call if we ever needed anything, even if it was to complain about my new life. She was always there and available.

I was lucky enough to have reconstructive surgery this past November and everything is back to normal.

She is a godsend and my savior, and I cant imagine what I would have done without her. Thank you, Amy, from the bottom of my heart, I love ya!

Why I Want to Become a WOC Nurse | Rachel Cantrell, BSN, RN

My reasons for pursuing a career as a wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) nurse stems from my personal experience of becoming an ostomate in December 1994. I was somewhat familiar with the potential of having an ostomy placed after growing up with my ostomy patient father and having Crohn’s disease since I was 16. The day I had my ostomy placed was an emergency. I was pregnant and had become very ill. My physicians discovered after almost two weeks of IV meds that some portion of my colon had perforated. I went into surgery thinking it was going to be repaired and woke up to an ileostomy. I was sad, yet thankful, to be alive and overjoyed to learn that my unborn child remained healthy. Within a week, I developed an infection in my incision and had to have the lower portion opened. The dressing changes were the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life thus far. There are no words to describe it except silence and tears.

The dressing was to be changed each shift. I will never forget when the second shift nurse had forgotten to change the dressing, forcing me to ask the third shift nurses to change it. Essentially, I volunteered for pain. The two male night nurses were amazingly compassionate as they held my hand and comforted me while the gauze was pulled out from my wound. My feet rested on their chest as a brace for the ongoing pain.

Four months, two weeks and thirty-six hours later I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Nathaniel Anthony. I felt life could not get any better than that moment. Gazing upon ten perfect fingers and toes, I knew I was blessed.

About four months later, I was back in the hospital due to further complications. I told the doctors to do what they had to in order to get me home to my beautiful baby boy. On September 28, 1995, my ostomy was made permanent. This is a date that will live in my memory for years as an ending, but also a beginning. Why do I want to be a WOC nurse? To be the one to hold a hand, dry the tears, to give hope, to be a resource to my patients and colleagues and to share the life and love that God has given me with others.

My WOC Nurse is My Friend | Anne S.

When I had a colostomy earlier this year, I was emotionally devastated and physically inept at changing the pouch. I don’t know what I ever would have done without the expert care and compassion of the very competent WOC nurse, Eileen McCann! She was so patient teaching me just how to drain and to change the appliance and she was also so very kind and encouraging every time we talked either on the phone or when she visited me, both at the rehab facility and at my home. She over-extended herself to me and insisted that I call her at any time if I had any questions or problems. That was so comforting to me! I am 75 years old and was very depressed about what had happened to me — Eileen knew just what to say to cheer me up and to help me feel better about myself, which helped me immensely to cope with my new way of life. Thanks to Eileen, I now think nothing of draining and changing the appliance and can do it quickly and efficiently. I’m back to my old self and I now go about my daily life without giving a thought to the colostomy (other than tending to it when it needs tending to!).

I was so very fortunate to have Eileen as my WOC nurse and now as the dear friend that she has become to me. With her more-than-competent nursing skills and her cheerful and bubbly personality, she is indeed an asset to her profession. Every hospital should have a WOC nurse like Eileen on their staff to help patients like myself who have so much to learn about caring for their new colostomy. I thank God every day for sending Eileen McCann to me!

Wonderful WOC Specialty Nurses | Thomas S.

As one who found himself facing health issues and life altering changes that needed careful consideration, when I needed calm reassurance and knowledgeable and caring support, that support came in the form of two wonderful Wound/Ostomy/Continence specialty nurses. Frankly, I could not have been treated better by my surgeon and his support staff, but the ability to spend time with these two fine professional nurses enabled me to learn what I needed to become self-sufficient and confident in my abilities to move forward. Because of them, living with a stoma is as natural as my life was prior to my surgery. I have the opportunity to undergo surgeries to reverse and reconnect, but honestly, I don’t believe that is necessary to enhance the quality of my life.

From Ostomate to WOC Nurse | Joanna Joy Burgess, BSN, RN, CWOCN, CMLDT

Diagnosed with a rare form of bladder cancer at the age of three, Joanna Joy Burgess, BSN, RN, CWOCN, CMLDT, courageously underwent both chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment also included the removal of Joanna’s bladder and the creation of a urostomy, a way to divert urine by connecting the ureters to a conduit made out of the small bowel which is then brought to the outside of the abdomen through a surgically created opening called a stoma. A bag is worn over the stoma to collect the urine.

Read more of Joanna’s story to discover how her illness lead her to a career as a WOC nurse.

How a WOC Nurse Made a Difference | Dr. Salisz

In November 2010, urologist Joseph Salisz underwent surgery for bladder and prostate removal. With a family history of prostate cancer and increased symptoms, Dr. Salisz sought a surgical attempt at a cure, and an aggressive University of Michigan urologist performed the surgery that resulted in urinary diversion through ureteroileostomy. Shortly after surgery, Dr. Salisz experienced trauma when he was not given the proper care that he required when faced with his newly acquired ostomy bag.

Discover how a WOC nurse made a difference in the care Dr. Salisz received. Learn more

Veteran Responds to Rare Genetic Mutation with Positivity | Daniel Shockley

Faced with a diagnosis of Adenomatous Polyposis Coli, a condition which increases a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer, Daniel Shockley underwent a total proctocolectomy with ileostomy surgery in July of 2012. The surgery removed portions of his large intestine including the colon, rectum and anus.

Learn how Daniel stays positive and advocates for ostomy patients across the US.



Do you know a patient with a remarkable story about the care they received from a WOC nurse? Are you a nurse who would like to showcase outstanding outcomes or a personal experience with a patient suffering from a wound, ostomy, or incontinence?


Email share@wocn.org and we’ll help share your story.


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