How to decide if you should earn wound care certification

wound care certification

Have you ever wondered if getting wound care certification is necessary? The answer is not always that simple.

wound care

By Bill Richlen, PT, WCC, DWC

You need to first ask why you want to be certified.

Among the many valid reasons for seeking certification is the increase in your credibility with colleagues and patients. Certification also can provide career advancement opportunities in the wound care industry while ensuring better quality care for patients.

But does it always ensure quality care? Not necessarily.

Over the years, I have encountered clinicians with wound care certification practicing outdated, non-evidence based wound care treatments. That may seem outlandish, and you may be asking yourself, “How can that happen? Shouldn’t they know better?”

There are a couple of common factors involved. First, it is common that clinicians who have been doing things a certain way for years and see the industry also doing the same, conclude it must be right and do not question it.

Second, although the certification process generally includes some good wound education, it is not entirely comprehensive. Staying current and advancing knowledge is neglected by some clinicians.

What is wound care certification?

There are several organizations that provide different certifications in wound care, as well as ostomy, continence and diabetic wounds.

The most prominent organizations include:

  • Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN)
  • American Board of Wound Management (ABWM)
  • National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCO)

Each organization has its own prerequisites that must be completed before you earn the credentials. NAWCO was awarded accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies in May 2019.

This process recognizes the clinician as a specialist in wound care. These organizations also encourage continuing education that can be used for renewal of the certification.

If you take advantage of this, it will help you grow your wound care knowledge and advance your journey to becoming a true wound expert.

Is certification necessary to perform good wound care?

Certification is not required to provide good evidence-based wound care. But clinicians must invest the time and energy into education and staying current with the evidence. Then take the evidence and apply it to how they practice.

True expertise has nothing to do with how many letters a professional has behind his or her name. It is a matter of how you actually practice and treat wounds.

Who should consider wound care certification?

Any clinician who deals with wounds as a regular part of his or her job duties should consider certification. The process generally includes a solid foundation of wound care education needed to successfully pass the exam and earn certification.

When you take that knowledge and successfully apply it, patients have better outcomes. Our patients need access to more wound care specialists to improve the likelihood they will receive more effective care.

At a minimum, clinicians need to seek additional training via seminars, webinars and conferences.

The ultimate goal is to develop expertise in wound care that demonstrates how you treat. Knowledge without application is just dabbling.

Keep in mind patients, facilities and some clinicians put a lot of stake in titles and credentials. They assume because a clinician is called a wound doctor or wound nurse, holds certification or works at the wound clinic, he or she must be an expert.

However, titles or credentials do not guarantee the best wound care available. Those of us who are certified or have reached expert level status need to continue to challenge clinicians around us to focus on treatments based on good, logical rationale and evidence. As well as educate the patients and caregivers around us.

Earn wound care certification with our institute today.

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Bill Richlen, PT, WCC, DWC, is a clinical instructor for the Wound Care Education Institute. As a licensed physical therapist, Richlen has experience in advanced wound care consultations in long-term care, outpatient, skilled rehabilitation and home health. He has served as a clinical instructor for physical therapy students, been the director of several large rehabilitation departments, and has been providing multi-disciplinary wound care education to nurses and therapists for more than 17 years. His expertise in diverse settings enhance his role as a clinical instructor. His dynamic and captivating teaching style keeps attendee’s attention throughout each course.

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