My Education: BS, Nursing, University of Connecticut MS, Nursing, Boston College
My Prior Experience: I have been a nurse for 31 years, starting as a staff nurse on general surgical units and moving later on to ICU's. After getting my master's degree I worked in clinical educator positions and then, for the past two decades, as a certified wound care nurse in a hospital setting.
My Company: I work in a long-term acute care hospital on both the in-patient units and in the out-patient wound clinic. On the in-patient side, we take care of patients who are very ill -- too ill to be cared for at home or in a nursing home. In the out-patient wound center, we take care of people who have chronic non-healing wounds.
Job/Career Overview: As a wound care nurse, I am responsible for acting as a consultant within the hospital for patients who have chronic non-healing wounds. There are a variety of wounds that fall into this category including bedsores, infected surgical incisions and burns. I am asked to see the patient and the wound, evaluate the factors that may be delaying healing and make treatment recommendations. I document my findings and recommendations for treatment in the patient's medical record and communicate them verbally to the other members of the treatment team.
I am also expected to be a wound care educator for nurses, doctors and other members of the care team. I give lectures on wound care in both my hospital and the community several times a year, and I also teach nurses, doctors, patients and family members in the course of my hospital rounds. If a patient is being discharged, for example, and still needs a dressing change for a wound, I might teach the procedure to the patient and the visiting nurse to ensure that everyone knows what to do after leaving the hospital.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
The best part of my job is definitely my ability to help people to heal! There are many possible "recipes" in wound care to help create a healing environment. There are between 3,000 and 6,000 wound care products on the market! My job is to evaluate the wound and recommend what I think is the best product, or combination of products would work best to help the wound to heal. When my recommendations work - and the wound heals - it is just a great feeling!
The worst part of my job is that there is no single right way to make problem wounds heal. In math, no matter how many different ways you add 2 and 2, the answer will always be 4. In wound care, it's not that easy. There is no formula to follow. There is some science and some common sense to use in determining the best answer, but every person is different, and so is every wound. Science has demonstrated that good nutrition helps to heal a chronic wound, but if the person is sick, and doesn't want to eat, I won't be able to provide the nutrition needed.
1. Nursing has so many fields of study these days. My advice is to find what you love! If you love kids, work in pediatrics. If you love older people, work in geriatrics. If you like things fast-paced, work in an Emergency Room.
2. Decide what education track makes sense for you and follow a plan. Some people start as a nursing assistant, then become an LPN, then an RN and then get a college degree. Others go straight to a 4-year college program and come out prepared as an RN with a college degree. I have friends who worked their way through the different levels while I went directly to college. Both ways are fine, but the key is to make sure your choice works for you.
3. Get used to being in a hospital or clinic. Volunteer or set up an internship. Exposure to the setting is the best way to find out about the work.