Wound care nurses care for patients with much more than bumps or bruises. They are highly skilled nurses who work with both simple and complex wounds, ostomies, skin issues from incontinence, surgical wounds, and pressure ulcers. They are up-to-date on current wound care recommendations and available products, and work closely with all members of the healthcare team to help promote healing. Additionally, not only do they focus on healing current wounds, but they spend a great deal of time educating patients on avoiding wounds and skin breakdown.

Why Do I Need a Wound Care Nurse Certification?

Because wounds arise from different etiologies, nurses must be skilled in selecting the appropriate treatment plan to promote healing and foster compliance from patients and families. There are many factors that affect healing, and wound nurses must have sharp assessment skills to determine if physical or psychosocial factors are creating barriers to healing. By earning certification in wound care, it demonstrates that the nurse has a high level of experience in wound care and has been trained in the specialty. Additionally, to be able to practice as a wound care nurse, certification is often required.

Where Can I Get a Wound Care Nurse Certification?

There are several organizations that offer wound care nurse certification. Some are open to members of the health care team other than nurses, and some are exclusively for nurses. Additionally, there are many education programs that help prepare nurses to sit for the certification exams through the organizations listed below:

Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB)

Certificate Name: Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse, Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse, Certified Wound Care Nurse, Certified Ostomy Care Nurse, Certified Continence Care Nurse, Certified Foot Care Nurse. All of the above, except for the certified foot care nurse, is available for advanced practice nurses as well.

Credential Awarded: CWOCN, CWON, CWCN, COCN, CCCN, or CFCN

Cost: The cost for one specialty is $395; two specialties $510; three specialties $610; four specialties $670

Certification Requirements & Eligibility

There are specific requirements depending on which specialty wound care certification is desired, as well as if it is an RN or APRN seeking certification. Applicants are advised to determine the specific requirements based on their needs. The requirements for a Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (CWOCN), for example, include:

  • Have a current RN license
  • Hold a BSN or higher nursing degree
  • Graduated from an accredited WOC education program within the previous 5 years, OR
  • Have had direct patient care/clinical hours/continuing education credits as a post-baccalaureate nurse while practicing as an RN, 50 continuing education credits must directly apply to the specialty certification sought
  • 1500 direct patient clinical hours must be completed within the previous 5 years, 375 of which should occur in the year prior to application

National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCCB)

Certificate Name: Wound Care Certified Certification. Can be in wound care, diabetic wound care, nutrition wound care, ostomy, lymphedema lower extremity

Credential Awarded: WCC, DWC, NWCC, OMS, LLE

Cost: $300

Certification Requirements & Eligibility

Requirements for this certification exam vary depending on the certification sought. For example, the general wound care certification eligibility requirements include:

  • Have completed a skin and wound management education course OR
  • Have a current, active certification from the WOCNCB (see above) or the CWS from the American Board of Wound Management
  • Have completed 120 hours of clinical training with an approved preceptor OR
  • Have completed 2 years full time or 4 years part-time experience in an approved profession with direct wound-care experience, can be in management, education, or research

American Board of Wound Management (ABWM)

Certificate Name: Certified Wound Care Associate, Certified Wound Specialist, Certified Wound Specialist Physician

Credential Awarded: CWCA, CWS, CWSP

Cost: CWCA: $375, CWS: $575, CWSP: $995

Certification Requirements & Eligibility

Depending on the three available certifications, requirements may vary. For example, requirements for the wound care associate applicants include:

  • Must be a healthcare professional with at least 3 years of wound care experience
  • Sales and marketing professional in the wound care industry with at least 3 years of wound care experience
  • Professional licenses must be unrestricted

While the wound care associate certification is open to various professions, the wound care specialist certification is open to a more specific group of healthcare professionals, such as DO, DPM, DVM, MD, NP, PA, PT, RD, and RNs

American Board of Wound Healing (ABWH)

Certificate Name: Physician Certification in Hyperbaric Medicine, Physician Certification in Wound Care, Certified Hyperbaric and Wound Specialist, Certified Hyperbaric Specialist, Certified Skin & Wound Specialist

Credential Awarded: FACHM, FAPWCA (for physicians). CHWS, CSWS, CHS (for other disciplines, including nurses)

Cost: CHWS: $395, CSWS: $320, CHS: $320

Certification Requirements & Eligibility

The physician certification has different requirements than other disciplines. The CHWS, CSWS, and CHS certification requirements may also vary. For example, the requirements for the Certified Skin & Wound Specialist certification include:

  • A minimum of two years of experience in a hospital or outpatient facility with training in wound care
  • A minimum of 200 hours of wound care training and practice experience for the previous two years
  • Have completed 12 continuing education credits in wound care. Must provide a copy of the certificate of completion
  • Completion of core competencies in wound care. An employer must verify and validate the clinical experience.

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