Turtle in scrubs 5,924 Views
Joined Mar 8, '07.
Posts: 215 (43% Liked)
I know exactly the position your in and posted pretty much the same question to this site before I jumped in. Strangely people don't talk too much about their educational/occupational journey here. I finally just took a risk and went for it. I did Emory's distance learning course. It required me to do the book work at home (so I could keep working full time), one week at Emory, and then clinicals back home at the hospital I work at. I'm now working part time at that hospital and hoping for full time some day. A couple of thoughts.
I was only 1 of 3 people in the group of 40? at Emory who was not already working as a Wound/ostomy nurse of some kind. A lot of places take on people who are interested and then pay for them to go to school (or pay part of it). I would have done this if it were an option. I think it's the best way to go for a couple of reasons. First, you get it paid for. Secondly, having some experience in the field makes the course work easier and more importantly more productive. You know what questions to ask, etc. and just generally get more out of it. Also, if you get a facility to pay for you to go then they are invested and you are locked into a job. I paid out of pocket and just took a risk that I would find a job. Got super lucky b/c I really wanted to stay in the hosp I was working in (which was not willing to send me to school and didn't have an open position when I started going to school). If that hadn't worked out I would have probably gone into home health which was the only other open position in my area. I don't regret the route I took at all. Sometimes we just need to forge our own path, but if you can lock into a healthcare system I think that is ideal.
If I had it to do differently I might have done clinicals at a different hospital than the one I work at. See different stuff, etc.
Emory provided a solid program. I felt the wound and ostomy coursework were better structured and prepared me for exams much more than the continence coursework. The people at Emory were helpful and communication was good. The distance learning is not just a computer course, you will feel like you are part of a program once you have gone through it. Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it, and I asked a lot of questions along the way and had good interactions (via emails and phone calls) with instructors. I would have prefered to go there for the full onsite course but couldn't get a educational leave of absence from my employer, and it's a great option if you can't afford to stop working.
Compared to staff nursing the demand for WOCN's is very limited, but of course the pool of WOCN's is quite limited. I'm guessing supply and demand is about the same but location of jobs is the real kicker. It can be harder to make that match. If you are willing to relocate you open your options up greatly. If you are not, I would recommend looking around at what openings there are in your area now. I doubt they will be considerably different when you complete the coursework.
WOCNs seem to be an independent, self motivated, and creative group of people. Each person paves their own way and there is not one best way for everyone. You may want to work on "selling yourself" to facilities, make some cold calls, take them your resume, let them know you want to "make a deal". There is a lot of networking that goes on, so put yourself out there and take some risks if this is what you really want. Knowing what I know now, I would have been more assertive in this process. Every WOCN I've met seems to have a high level of job satisfaction, and that has been true for me thus far.
Just a few thoughts for what they are worth. Whatever you decide, all the best!
From my experience WOCN's are in demand (in the couple of States I've lived in). I am not familiar with a DWC. It may be popular in different areas of the country however. I think the question is, 'are there jobs out there that require this certification'? Have you seen postings for jobs that require a DWC? Or, do you work for an employer who will hire you in a new role, or pay you more money if you have this certification? If the answer is 'No' to these, I would steer clear of going that route.
Whatever route you take, I would recommend researching the job demand in your area first. If you are in an OP clinic I'm guessing you have vendors stop by. Talk to them! They have their finger on the pulse of the area, and will often be able to tell you who is looking for a WOCN, etc. Some places will hire a nurse without a WOCN, and pay for them to go to school if they will commit to working at their facility for a couple of years. It's always worth asking! Visit local hospitals and clinics and just ask questions. Check out Indeed and see what jobs are listed for WOCN's and DWC's.
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