How to Become a Wound Care Nurse

Staff Writer
Reviewed by Dr. Doug Turner
Oct 24, 2022

Wound care nursing is an especially fulfilling practice because you play an active role in helping the body heal. As the demand increases with an aging population, and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, wound care nurses are in demand. Keep reading to find out what wound care nurses do, if it’s right for you, and how you can get started on the path today.

Steps to Becoming a Wound Care Nurse

Once a nurse earns their degree and passes the NCLEX-RN, they may decide to specialize in wound care nursing. This will require additional training and education. Many RNs enter wound care nursing after treating patients with chronic wounds in other nursing areas, such as oncology, med-surg, or critical care.

Related Resource: Wound Care Nursing: Everything You Need to Know

1. Earn Your BSN

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is required to be certified by the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB).

Related Resource: How to Get Your BSN Degree

2. Obtain Your RN

After earning your nursing degree, you must pass the pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your RN license, which is a prerequisite for obtaining your wound care license.

Related Resource: How to Become a Registered Nurse

3. Attend a Board-Approved Certification Program

A variety of certifications are available that meet the WOCNCB board requirements to be a wound care nurse. These certification programs typically take 2-3 months to complete. After completing the program, you must pass a certification exam.

Common wound care certified programs:

  • CWOCN: Certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse
  • CWCN: Certified Wound Care Nurse
  • COC: Certified Ostomy Care Nurse
  • CCCN: Certified Continence Care Nurse
  • CWON: Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse

4. Or Obtain Certification Via Experience

There is also an option to obtain certification via experience. This requires 50 wound care related CEs and 1500 hours of clinical experience, over the last 5 years.

5. Pass the Exam

After you complete approved wound care education, you must take and pass the certification exam. The cost of the exam varies.

Related Resource: 10 Proven Study Tips to Retain Information

6. Earn Continuing Education Credits

Like all medical professionals, wound care nurses require continuing education (CE) credits to remain up to date on new treatments and medical best practices. The CE credits also help you qualify for recertification, which is required every 5 years.

7. Find a Wound Care Nurse Job

Wound care nurses work in a variety of medical settings, including acute and long-term care facilities, home healthcare companies, public health agencies, and hospice. There is a growing need for wound care nurses in long-term care settings to treat complications from diabetes, in particular.

A hospital wound care nurse is commonly consulted during a patient’s stay when a wound or pressure ulcer is discovered, or if the patient has an ostomy. They are responsible for following the proper course of treatment to promote healing and continually assessing the patient’s skin.

Related Resource: Nursing Interview Tips for Your First Nursing Job

Hospital wound care nurses support patients in:

  • Operating Rooms (OR)
  • Critical Care
  • ICU
  • Settings where patients have decreased mobility


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