Enterostomal Therapy Nurse

What is an enterostomal therapy nurse? As the field of nursing grows it is also becoming more and more specialized, and this focus on nursing is one of many increasingly popular areas of nursing that you may choose to pursue as a specialization. Enterostomal therapy nurses (ET) specialize in aiding patients with ostomies, chronic wounds, such as ulcers, fistulas, or fecal or urinary incontinence. They also provide post-surgery treatment and care for patients with ostomies, which are surgical openings that allow for bodily waste elimination.

These nurses can focus on preoperative side of the enterostomal nursing specialty, offering education, counseling, and information about the surgery and how it will impact their life. Enterostomal nurses also provide post operative care in many different settings, monitoring, offering follow up care, and helping their patients adjust to life with their health conditions. They can work in clinics, hospitals, private practices, and residential facilities offering extended care. They are similar to wound, ostomy, continence nurses, but may focus particularly on the therapy. They also focus on helping their patients and the patients’ families learn how to adjust to the new conditions they face and how to care for themselves at home as well as how to prevent stomal complications. Patient education plays a large role in this nursing specialty.

There are various educational paths toward the enterostomal nursing specialty, but all will require earning your degree to become a registered nurse (RN) and passing the licensing exam, which is called the NCLEX exam. Certification, while voluntary, is also considered an ideal path and highly preferred by employers. Generally the certification exam is taken once you have gotten a little experience in the field of enterostomal nursing. When choosing your nursing program, consider whether or not you will pursue a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN) from a college or university, or if you will go for an Associate Degree from a vocational or community college or a Nursing Diploma from a hospital, requiring only two to three years. Bachelor’s degrees are generally preferred and will often garner you more opportunities and a higher salary.

Enterostomal Nursing Certification

Enterostomal nursing certification is offered by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. In order to take the certification exam, it is required that you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and some training gained through their continuing education courses, or five years of experience working in enterostomal nursing in place of the continuing education in wound, ostomy and continence nursing. Enterostomal nursing certification will likely increase your prospects of landing the enterostomal nurse job you want and will demonstrate your expertise to future co-workers, employers, and patients. And because recertification is required every five years, the resources certification provides will help you stay current with developments in the field and demonstrate your dedication to the field and to employers.

Enterostomal Nursing Salaries

The salary for these nurses can range from $55,986 to $74,685, depending on your education, experience, employer, and geographic location. Salaries can get over $100,000 a year as a nurse practitioner with an advanced degree in nursing. The outlook for all nursing specialties is particularly high in an already rapidly growing field. The more specialized your nursing education is, the greater job prospects and salary will be. So finding the right nursing program and educational path for you is an important step and can take some dedication, but will lead to a rewarding career in nursing. Start searching for a nursing program that fits your current education level to jump start you in the right direction.

(Sources: Cancer. 1992 Sep 1;70(5 Suppl):1390-2. "Role of the enterostomal therapy nurse in ostomy patient rehabilitation" - Doughty D., Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurses Society, Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB))

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