Wound-care nurses are often called wound, ostomy and continence nurses. They are registered nurses, or RNs, and most have received certification from such organizations as the WOC Nursing Certification Board. Some wound-care nurses are nurse practitioners, or NPs, meaning they have obtained a master’s degree in nursing. Wound-care RNs care for patients who are suffering from disorders of the gastro-intestinal, integumentary or genitourinary systems, including post-operative and other care for abdominal stomas, ulcers, wounds, drains and incontinence.
Education & Training
Wound-care nurses must complete an RN program, either by way of an associate’s degree, a diploma or a bachelor’s degree program. Associate degree programs generally result in an ASN, or associate of science in nursing degree; or an ADN, which is an associate’s degree in nursing. Bachelor’s degrees are rewarded with a BSN, or bachelor of science in nursing degree. Most wound-care nurses work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and for home health services agencies. Although not all employers require certification, candidates with certification better position themselves for the job market and for higher pay rates. Wound-care nursing certification can be obtained via the WOCNCB, the National Alliance of Wound Care and the American Academy of Wound Management.
National Nurse Salaries
Most wound-care nurses serve as staff RNs for health-care facilities or companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, using May 2010 data, reports a median income for registered nurses of $64,690, with a middle 50th percentile salary range of $52,980 to $79,020. The 10th percentile salary is $44,190 and the 90th percentile figure is $95,130. The average hourly wage is $32.56. Indeed.com reports an average U.S. salary of $59,000 for wound-care nurses, with a two-year downward trend in salary levels since 2009. The website NursingSchools.net estimates the average salary of a wound-care nurse at $62,000. The median U.S. nurse practitioner, including wound-care NPs, is $89,454, according to May 2011 data supplied by Salary.com. The middle 50th percentile pay rate is $82,963 to $96,292 a year, with a 10th percentile salary of $77,052 and a 90th percentile pay rate of $102,517 annually. The pay rate for a wound-care NP provided by the New York Department of Civil Service in Erie County in April 2009 was $77,118 to $95,484 a year.
Salary by Location
The average salary of a wound-care nurse in Los Angeles is $61,000, according to Indeed.com. In New York City, the average salary is $72,000. In Denver, Colorado, the average salary is $53,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the three highest-paying states for RNs are California, with an average salary of $87,480; Massachusetts at $84,990; and Hawaii at $82,130. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area in California is the highest-paying metropolitan area in the United States, with an average salary of $116,150.
The job-growth rate for RNs in all specialties is expected to be 22 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hospitals, the largest employers of RNs with 2.6 million jobs in 2008, will be among the slowest-growing employment sectors at 17 percent. Both nursing homes, at 25 percent, and home health care services, at 33 percent, are projected to enjoy much higher employment growth rates. Wound-care nurses can expect good opportunities in these areas because of the aging of the U.S. population, which represents the largest percentage of wound-care nurse patients.