Wound Care Nurse Job Facts

A wound care nurse deals with the management of a range of patient wounds, which may include post surgical or other wounds and dealing with the effects of wounds on the patient.

The Work Environment

Wound care nurses, as specialists, work as case managers for their patients, either in medical facilities or providing home care. Wound care can involve:

  • Infections
  • Loss of physical functions as a result of wounds
  • Infection prevention
  • Managing wound healing
  • Advising patients and caregivers regarding wound care
  • Monitoring patients
  • Wound care in relation to medical conditions like diabetes

This care requires a large knowledge base and extensive understanding of treatment regimes. Many wounds are serious liabilities to patients, exposing them to risk of major infections. The wound care nurse has to create a good healing environment, while simultaneously ensuring the patient is protected from these risks.

The wound care management program therefore involves close monitoring of the patient, checking the status of the wound, and in some cases, referring patients for additional medical treatment where required.

This job can be very difficult. One of the reasons for specialist wound care nurses is the complexity of the medical situations which can arise from wounds. While infection is the most serious threat, the wound itself is an injury to the patient which weakens the body. Some wounds may take a long time to close properly, and may require a long time for full recovery. During that period, the patient is at risk from the wound.

Infections are extremely dangerous, and the onset of their effects can be very rapid. Many infections are hard to treat, like antibiotic resistant bacteria and the deadly Golden Staph infection, which is a major killer. The wound nurse, confronted with an infection, has to deal with it as fast and effectively as possible. This involves:

  • Accurately identifying the infection.
  • Prescribing the correct treatment.
  • Ensuring the patient's well-being during this process.

That's not easy. Some infections can cause major medical issues, even cardiac arrest and serious breathing difficulties. Other forms of infection can destroy tissue. Some forms of blood poisoning can kill in days. Tetanus is a common threat which can cause lockjaw and death in some circumstances. A severe fever caused by an infection can cause brain damage or even death. The wound care nurse has to identify and deal with all these issues, in whatever forms they occur, simultaneously.

Treatment of major infections and their effects may take months, or even years. Some patients may have additional medical issues after an infection. This is case management in its most literal form, each case with a complete individual diagnosis, prognosis and treatment regimen.

Wages: The median range is $60,000, with packages adding to the total remuneration.

Hours: Usually shift or standard hours.

The Career Environment

Wound care nurses may progress to wound care consultancies, on the basis of experience and advanced qualifications. This is a highly specialized field, and wound care nurses may find their services very much in demand throughout the health care industry, including pediatrics and aged care, as well as general medical services. Employment growth in this area is projected to be higher than the US average for the coming decade.