Not Just a Matter of Pride

Diana Gallagher, MS RN CWOCN CFCN

Every wound, ostomy, continence, or foot care nurse has experienced bad days. Days that simply don’t have enough hours to personally address everything that everyone wants. Days when everyone else seems to think that they are the boss. Days that make even the most dedicated nurses question what they are doing and why in a world of other opportunities that they still want to do it. The role IS challenging, and part of successfully surviving the challenges that are a part of the daily job is to understand how to navigate those challenges, allow the challenge to foster growth, and direct the continual growth into sustainability.

Our role is challenging, and that challenge rarely fades into the background. There are days when administrators want special projects, or reports, or your expert opinion and they want it today and not tomorrow. There are days when the regulatory changes challenge common sense. Days when the sheer number of patients or the complexity of a patient demands every bit of creativity, knowledge and critical thinking that you can muster. In our professional lives, there are days and then there are simply even more challenging days.

For someone who is not living (and loving) the role, it is difficult to understand why anyone would choose these specialties. It is equally difficult to understand why anyone would choose to remain in the role in light of easier, less demanding and less stressful jobs in nursing. These are questions that each of us WOCNCB certified nurses answer on a regular basis as we explain what we do and why we do it. As we look at why we gravitate to such a challenging and demanding job, and then why we embrace it as a chosen career, we need to look at the question from a business perspective.

In the business world, one of the new “buzz words” is sustainability. As we look at the average age of a certified wound, ostomy, continence, or foot care nurse and the average tenure of nurses within these specialties, it is clear that the role lends itself to sustainability. Perhaps those who gravitate toward this profession are simply stubborn or perhaps there is a much deeper complexity to consider. Sometimes individuals in challenging careers stay in the role because of a lack of other opportunities. That is clearly not the situation here. We highly specialized WOCNCB certified nurses could easily succeed in any number of nursing, management, or completely different roles. Yet, we do not leave. Sometimes individuals in difficult roles stay because the monetary compensation is so high that they can not afford to leave. That is sadly not the situation for most of us. So, the question remains, what makes us stay committed to our role?

There are a number of reasons that I can cite that show how WOCNCB certification supports the concept of sustainability in our profession. Pride in being one of the best, satisfaction in being one of the most proficient, security in knowing the value of the role to patients and administrators and confidence in knowing the difference that we can make in mentoring other nurses are all great reasons. The ability to give our best, be truly appreciated by patients for our gifts, and accept their simple thanks for a job well done can go a long way in overcoming those challenging days.

For each of us, however, there is a much more personal answer to the question that is posed. I believe that a lot of those personal answers have names and faces and memories attached to them. We love our role because we truly care about the patients, families and facilities that we serve. We love the challenges that demand the highest levels of critical thinking and engineering skills.

To use another business buzz word, the bottom line is WOCNCB certified nurses recognize and appreciate that the lives we touch are better because of our presence.

Diana Gallagher, MS, RN, CWOCN, CFCN, CHT
WOCNCB President

© 2015 WOCNCB Certification e-NEWS is a quarterly publication of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board