"I work (and delight) in the WOC specialty because it allows me to make a difference for some of the most vulnerable and despondent of patients — for example, persons with chronic wounds, persons who have to adjust to a fecal diversion, or persons who are incontinent.”
Dr. Beitz is a professor of nursing at the School of Nursing-Camden at Rutgers University (Camden, NJ). Dr. Beitz has more than 40 years of nursing experience in acute, subacute, and outpatient care settings. She is board-certified as an adult clinical specialist in medical-surgical nursing; operating room nurse; wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) nurse; and adult nurse practitioner. She has worked as a perioperative staff nurse; as head nurse of general surgery, endoscopy, and cardiothoracic surgery services; and on cardiac care units and step-down intensive care areas. She developed an interest in the WOC specialty and became a WOC nurse in the early 1990s and has since worked across a number of care settings. Dr. Beitz is the director of the Rutgers University Camden Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Education Program, one of only 2 graduate level programs in the United States. She has taught nursing students at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels.
Dr. Beitz has published research on evidence-based algorithms for pressure ulcer prevention, safe ostomy care, negative pressure wound therapy, and appropriate topical therapy for wounds. She is on the editorial and manuscript reviewer boards of multiple wound care and educational journals and has won local, regional, and national awards for excellence in teaching, research, and clinical practice. She is a nationally and internationally known lecturer on WOC care issues and is a prolific writer with many publications in prestigious nursing and interdisciplinary journals. Dr. Beitz received the WOC Nurse of Distinction and President’s Awards of the Northeast Region of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society; in April 2012, she was presented the Master of Wound Care Award of the American Professional Wound Care Association. She was selected as Distinguished Nursing Alumna 2012 of the La Salle University School of Nursing and Health Sciences (Philadelphia, PA). In 2013, she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. In 2014, Dr. Beitz received the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Rutgers University-Camden.
Why Wound Care?
My career in wound care developed over time as a result of my earlier experiences as an operating room nurse, especially in general surgery. I was involved in many patient surgeries where we were debriding incredibly challenging wounds, revising dehisced or eviscerated abdominal wounds, or creating urinary or fecal diversions. I found the care of these patients very interesting, and I wondered how the care was provided after the patient left the surgical suite.
When I started to work in critical care, as well as teaching nursing students, I began to encounter more interesting patients with intriguing wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) nursing conditions. Most memorable was my encounter with a WOC (then enterostomal therapy) nurse named Grace Williams. She took me with her one day when I was working with students at Graduate Hospital (Philadelphia, PA) and let me watch her care for a woman with a world-class case of hidradenitis suppurativa of the groin. It was unbelievably challenging! I was awestruck by her expert use of products, wound assessment skills, and therapeutic relationship with the patient. I knew then I was going to get into this specialty. I attended a WOC certificate program at Albany Medical Center (Albany, NY). My preceptorship was with another incredible WOC nurse, Linda Lankenau, at Pennsylvania Hospital (Philadelphia, PA). She was, and still is, my role model for the best of WOC nursing.
Subsequently, I began to work as a WOC nurse at a long-term acute care setting in addition to full-time teaching. I realized the tremendous complexity of my patients and recognized the need for a different form of WOC nursing education, a program offering graduate credits that could be used for advanced education as a clinical specialist or nurse practitioner. I believed then, and believe now, that advanced practice nurses can transform the quality of patient care delivery.
I work (and delight) in the WOC specialty because it allows me to make a difference for some of the most vulnerable and despondent of patients — for example, persons with chronic wounds, persons who have to adjust to a fecal diversion, or persons who are incontinent. In addition to providing direct care, the specialty has empowered me to teach WOC nurses who “pay it forward” to other needy patients who benefit from expert care. I also have had the pleasure of using my clinical practice as a basis for nursing research targeting safer WOC nursing care delivery. My supreme satisfaction comes from knowing I am improving patient safety, easing burdens, and assisting quality patient care for persons across the world. It doesn’t get better than that.