Wound care is a big topic in healthcare, especially when it comes to assessing and treating chronic wounds and pressure injuries which can be present across a diverse range of health conditions. Becoming a wound care nurse by obtaining a wound care certification are important steps on the way to a more fulfilling career in healthcare.
We sat down with Dr. Karen Bauer, a Wound Care Certified Nurse Practitioner and Director of Wound Services at the University of Toledo, for a deeper dive into the expertise that goes into wound care as well as the practical benefits of obtaining a wound care certification and why it goes well beyond career advancement.
Q&A With a Wound Care Specialist: “Wound Care is Absolutely Everywhere”
With a B.A. in Sociology and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, DNP, Karen Bauer has been working as a Nurse Practitioner for 15 years, 13 of which were dedicated to wound management and 8 to vascular medicine. A seasoned expert on the subject of wound care, Karen answered our top questions.
Why is it important for nurses to know about wound care?
Karen Bauer: No matter what field an RN is in, they will encounter some sort of wound. Wound care is absolutely everywhere.
It’s crucial to be familiar with quality metrics and legal consequences — for example, pressure ulcers in particular are seen as nursing care quality indicators. Not to mention, wounds are costly. If we can diminish the costs of the system, we’re making an important contribution.
For nurses, a wound care certification also has a huge potential for return on investment: nurses can make an impressive difference to patient outcomes all by themselves.
Who comprises the interdisciplinary wound care team?
Karen Bauer: It’s a big, diverse group.
The interdisciplinary team typically includes vascular surgery, often times plastic surgery, general surgery, and ER doctors. Obviously, nurses are critical, as well as AP [advanced practice] providers, dieticians, PTs [physical therapists], all types of physicians, and social workers.
What is the role of a wound care nurse?
Karen Bauer: It’s a holistic role. Every single body system affects the skin. That means that the role of the wound care nurse would involve taking care of the whole patient to prevent and manage wounds.
However, it’s also vital to make decisions with regard to dressings, lifestyle habits, and any necessary surgeries to help heal wounds.
Are wound care clinicians in high demand in the healthcare field?
Karen Bauer: Wound care clinicians are in extremely high demand. Obtaining a wound care certification increases a nurse’s opportunity to advance in their career.
It also contributes to a nurse’s autonomy because nurses are at the heart of decision making when it comes to a lot of wounds.
What kinds of wounds do nurses see regularly in clinical practice?
Karen Bauer: Of course, pressure ulcers are a big one. You’ll also encounter diabetic foot ulcers, which also see increased mortality rates; venous leg ulcers; and ischemic ulcers, which stem from peripheral artery disease. Those are the four major ones.
You’ll also come across a lot of acute wounds, especially in the ER.
What skills and techniques do nurses need to have about wound treatment?
- Knowledge and ability to apply and remove dressings
- Wound assessment
- Patient assessment
- In some states, nurses debride wounds
What are the wound care education options for nurses?
Karen Bauer: There are a lot of quality opportunities, starting with #1 Premiere Continuing Education. The platform offers an informative intro to wound care which covers general best practices and is a smart first step on the way to obtaining a wound care certification.
Additionally, there are quite a few national conferences, the Association for Advancement of Wound Care, and plenty of helpful webinars.
What is the benefit of a wound care certification?
Karen Bauer: Aside from the very real career benefits, when you’re working in wound care, you’re helping to advance the field. The wound care certification empowers nurses to participate in healthcare advancement, giving more credibility to the field overall.
All courses from #1 Premiere Continuing Education are developed by licensed professionals and top experts in their field, like Dr. Karen Bauer. Take her courses online and earn continuing education hours: Wound Care 101 and Pressure Ulcers 101.