What is an Ostomy Nurse?

An ostomy nurse is a specialist who cares for patients who have undergone surgical procedures called ostomies, operations to remove or bypass damaged sections of the urinary or gastrointestinal tract. Such patients are left with open surgical wounds that must be carefully cleaned and monitored by ostomy nurses. Extensive education, training, and experience are required to become an ostomy nurse. In most countries, an individual must earn a bachelor's degree, gain about five years of general nursing experience, and complete a specialized ostomy training program. After finishing training and passing requisite certification tests, a professional can become an ostomy nurse at a hospital, public clinic, nursing home, or surgical center.

An individual who wants to become an ostomy nurse first needs to complete a four-year bachelor's degree program. A nursing student usually takes a wide variety of courses related to biological science, including anatomy, physiology, health, and medical technology. In addition, an individual typically takes classes in computer science, communications, and mathematics to acquire technical and administrative skills. Most nursing school programs give students the chance to participate in formal internship programs in their last one or two years of study to gain practical experience.

After earning a degree, a person can take a regional or national licensing examination to earn registered nurse credentials and begin applying for entry-level positions at hospitals. Most new registered nurses start their careers in emergency rooms or critical care centers, where their skills are immediately put to the test under urgent circumstances. It is common for a new nurse to work long, variable hours and assume on-call status when not at the hospital. In time, he or she is usually rewarded with additional responsibilities and a less hectic schedule.

The requirements to become an ostomy nurse vary between regions, but most professionals need to gain about five years of registered nurse experience before applying for positions in the specialty. A seasoned nurse can look into university and hospital programs in his or her area designed to train prospective ostomy nurses. A program can last anywhere from a few months to two years, and typically includes both classroom studies and practical training in a clinical setting. In addition to learning about ostomy care, a trainee also receives detailed instruction on how treat patients with serious wounds and incontinence problems.

A nurse who is able to complete training can take a written exam offered by a national governing board to officially become an ostomy nurse. With board certification, a professional is qualified to provide expert clinical care and rehabilitation services in many settings. Most new ostomy nurses work in general hospitals and nursing homes. With experience, a nurse may be able to obtain a position at a specialty clinic or a surgical center to provide acute care.