Whether you’re new to wound care or have worked in the specialty for many years, clinicians who frequently encounter and treat wounds may ask themselves if earning a wound care certification is worth the time and effort.

Will wound care certification expand your knowledge and skills while enhancing professional growth and providing more career opportunities?

One wound care professional who is happy she decided to take the plunge and become certified is Barbara Petersen, RN, WCC, DWC, OMS, nursing coordination specialist in wound care at Adventist Health Central Valley Network in Hanford, Calif.

Petersen has been a nurse for 35 years, the past 11 of which have been in wound care. Prior to changing specialties, she worked 15 years in the ED, then five additional years as an ED/med-surg/SNF director simultaneously — reporting to two CNOs, and all while still working shifts in the ED.

She then spent one year as an assistant director of computer information systems to help implement a computer system in three hospitals. “After the computer system was up, I realized I missed working with patients, nurses and physicians,” she said.

Petersen felt a nudge toward wound care after working for two different CNOs at three different facilities.

“God placed wound care in my path,” she said. “We had not had a wound care nurse at any hospital in our system for at least three years. So, I asked my CNOs if they would hire me if I went for wound care training. They said yes and paid for my classes.”

Before sitting for a certification exam and becoming certified, you are required to work full time for two years or part time for four years with wound patients and take classes that fulfill certification board criteria, which includes content areas that will be covered during the certification exam, Petersen said.

In 2006, Petersen attended a certification class at the Wound Care Education Institute (WCEI) to educate herself on wound care and begin working in the specialty, providing hands-on care. She attended a second certification class at WCEI in 2007 when her organization began pressure ulcer initiatives and she wanted to learn about updates in wound care.

After having worked full time in wound care for two years, Petersen took a third certification class with WCEI in 2008 and sat for the certification exam with the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCO), earning her initial wound care certification (WCC).

Later, she added to her qualifications with Diabetic Wound Certified (DWC) and Ostomy Management Specialist (OMS) certifications in 2013.

She recertifies every five years as required by NAWCO to stay current.

How wound care certification has helped her career

Earning wound care certification has had a profound effect on Petersen’s career and patients in several ways.

She built the wound care program at three hospitals in her system, and even acquired a fourth facility that soon also will have a program.

“I’ve been able to influence a raising in the standard of care at our hospitals, as our hospital-acquired pressure injury rates had started high and have become very low over time,” she said. “Additionally, I am able to influence the products we choose to use, as I work with materials management to bring in new wound care products or eliminate others as needed.”

Another rewarding part of Petersen’s job is to teach other healthcare professionals and clinicians about wound care.

“I work with respiratory, physical therapy and nutrition regarding skin injury prevention, teach classes for our home health nurses and CNAs, and teach a monthly eight-hour wound care class for our nurses who must attend this training annually,” she said.

Petersen currently covers four hospitals, providing wound care and consults, in addition to many other duties.

As a result of specializing and becoming certified in general and diabetic wound and ostomy care, she said, “I’ve experienced a lot of professional development and career growth. I think I’ve made a difference.”

Take a wound care course to work toward your wound care certification today!

Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES

Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES, is a freelance writer and diabetes educator. Her background in nursing includes tenures in healthcare management and as a care provider. She has worked in med/surg/telemetry, a pediatric emergency department and college health.

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