The Need and Opportunities for Wound Specialized Nurses

Need for Wound Specialty Nurses - An aging population combined with an increase in the prevalence of persons with diabetes/obesity signals a future epidemic of chronic wounds. Nurses who specialize in wound prevention and care are in high demand across all patient care settings.

The need for nurses with advanced wound prevention and management knowledge and skills is substantial. Consider the statistics below:

· Chronic wounds (including pressure and venous insufficiency ulcers) affect around 6.5 million Americans, with more than $25 billion spent annually on the treatment of chronic wounds. An estimated 2% of the population in the United States has a chronic wound secondary to pressure, venous or arterial disease, or as a complication of diabetes mellitus.These numbers are on the rise due to an aging population and increases in the prevalence of diabetes and obesity.

· Approximately 15% of persons in U.S. acute care facilities have a pressure ulcer.2

· 6% of Medicare patients who have diabetes mellitus develop a foot ulcer.3

· Foot ulcers in persons with diabetes mellitus are a major healthcare issue leading to 65,000 amputations4 and costing $9-13 billion annually.5

· Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects 12%-20% of Americans aged 65 and over (6 to 8.4 million people).6

· 1/3 of Americans are obese and at high risk of related changes in body systems that impede wound healing.7

· Rates of wound dehiscence following surgery in high-risk patients have been reported to range from 8.6% to 39%.8

Opportunities for Wound Specialty NursesAccording to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for registered nurses is $64,690. 

Certified Wound Care Nurse Salaries

According to the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing (WOCN) Society’s 2008 WOC Nursing Salary and Productivity Survey, the mean annual salary for a Certified WOC nurse with a master’s degree was $83,000, with the top 25% earning $91,500. The mean annual salary for a CWOCN with a doctorate degree during the same time was $90,000, with the top 25% earning $91,500.

Wound care nurses must possess specialized knowledge about the prevention and management of wounds, including anatomy, physiology, general prevention and wound care nursing concepts, and the evidence that guides nursing practice. Due to the fact that wound specialist nurses make pivotal care decisions, they must be assertive leaders and critical thinkers with excellent organizational and management skills. Compassion and patience will help them to work effectively with diverse patients, their families, and caregivers. Best wound management practices also call for an interprofessional approach to ensure optimal outcomes for people with wounds, their families, and caregivers.


  1. Sen CK, Gordillo GM, Roy S, et al. Human skin wounds: a major and snowballing threat to public health and the economy. Wound Repair Regen. 2009;17:763-771.
  2. VanGilder, C., MacFarlane, G.D., Meyer, S. Results of nine international pressure ulcer prevalence surveys: 1989 to 2005. Ostomy Wound Management 2008;54(2),40-54)
  3. Margolis, D.J., Malay D.S., Hoffstad, O.J., Leonard, C.E, MaCurdy, T., de Nava, KL, Tan Y, Molina T., Siegel, KL. Incidence of diabetic foot ulcer and lower extremity amputation among Medicare beneficiaries, 2006 to 2008: Data Points #2. 2011. Data Points publication series. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US).
  4. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Incidence of diabetic foot ulcer and lower extremity amputation among Medicare beneficiaries, 2006 to 2008. Accessed December 9, 2014.
  5. Rice JB, Desai U, Cummings AK, et al. Burden of diabetic foot ulcers for Medicare and private insurers. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(3):651-8.
  6. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et. al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2011 Update: A Report from the AHA. Circulation 2011; 123:e18-e209.
  7. Krasner DL, Kennedy-Evans KL, Henn T, et. al. (2006) Bariatric Wound Care. Common Problems and Management Strategies. Bariatric Times 3(5):26-7.
  8. Ingargiola, M.J., Daniali, L.N. Lee, E.S. Does the application of incisional negative pressure therapy to high risk wounds prevent surgical site complications? A systematic review.Eplasty 2013;13, e49
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