A wound care nurse is a nurse who is trained in caring for severe wounds, including injuries, post-surgical wounds, and pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. Severe wounds carry an increased risk of infection, tend to heal slowly, and require more diligent monitoring than minor surface wounds. A wound care nurse should be friendly, gentle, and have meticulous attention to detail.
Wounds are typically painful for the patient, and a wound care nurse with a gentle touch can help make the process much less painful. For example, some deep wounds need to be packed with gauze or special material to help the wound heal from the inside out, which prevents infection from setting in to the deeper layers of tissue and absorbs pus and fluids from inside the wound. Packing a wound can be very uncomfortable for the patient, and taking care to be extra gentle when dealing with a deep wound can help the patient feel more relaxed during the treatment.
A good wound care nurse recognizes the overall benefit of not rushing the wound care treatment. By taking the time to talk to patients about their pain levels or any new symptoms, a wound care nurse is more likely to catch problems before they arise. Talking to patients during the treatment instills a stronger sense of trust, which in turn helps reduce patient anxiety.
Meticulous attention to detail is a must for a wound care nurse. A wound can change drastically from day to day, and the nurse must be alert for any signs of infection. The size of the wound is charted during each treatment to determine if it is healing properly or getting worse. Even the slightest change in size or depth can be significant. The color and odor of the wound is also noted with each treatment.
Wounds are typically measured in millimeters, even in countries that use standard units of measurement, so an understanding of the metric system is an important part of a wound care nurse’s education. New advances in wound care technology emerge frequently, and continuing education can help the nurse stay up to date. Most facilities require wound care nurses to obtain a certain number of educational hours prior to renewing their license.
A wound care nurse cannot be squeamish. Wounds occur in all shapes and sizes, and can be located anywhere on the body. Some ooze foul-smelling pus, and some reach down through several layers of skin tissue and even down to the bone. The nurse must be able to look at, touch, and even smell the discharge from all different types of wounds. Patients are often self-conscious of their wounds, so being able to do all of those things while still keeping a neutral facial expression and a compassionate tone in the voice is essential to good wound care nursing.