Scholar’s Work Helps to Bring More Nurses to Wound Care

By Ed Moorhouse

As a leading expert in wound care, Janice Beitz has taken steps in recent years to educate future WOC nurses and provide them with the resources required to deliver quality patient care.

As a leading expert in wound care, Janice Beitz has taken steps in recent years to educate future WOC nurses and provide them with the resources required to deliver quality patient care.

Janice Beitz is looking for a few good men and women.

More accurately, the Rutgers University–Camden nursing scholar is seeking out a few good nurses to help fill a void that is being felt throughout the nursing community.

“The demand for skilled wound, ostomy, and continence nurses is huge, and we need to begin to provide nurses with specialized knowledge to care for these patients,” says Beitz, a professor of nursing and director of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden’s graduate certificate program in wound, ostomy, and continence nursing (WOCN).

As the national population ages — and as a wave of more experienced nurses approach retirement — there is a rapidly growing demand for nurses specializing in wound, ostomy, and continence care. Moreover, there is a greater need for comprehensive expert education in this important area of healthcare.

It is estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 Americans are living with an ostomy due to gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and integumentary disorders. Furthermore, chronic wounds, such as pressure ulcers, affect 6.5 million Americans every year.

An aging population and an increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes signal a future epidemic of chronic wounds, Beitz says.

But the number of nurses specializing in wound care just can’t keep up with the demand.

“Many expert wound, ostomy, and continence nurses are getting older and younger nurses normally don’t go into wound care until their well into their careers,” Beitz explains. “We’ve reached a point at which we have to educate more nurses in this area as more patients deal with chronic wounds.”

As a leading expert in wound care, Beitz has taken steps in recent years to educate future WOC nurses and provide them with the resources required to deliver quality patient care.

In an effort to advance a national campaign to attract and educate specialized wound care nurses, Beitz lent her expertise to the development of the website whywoundcare.com, a resource designed to inform nursing students, recent graduates, and nursing faculty about rewarding careers in wound care.

“We wanted to create a resource to educate nurses, students, and faculty that would serve as a place to inform them of best practices in wound care from experts and clinicians,” Beitz says. “Nurses need to have the best evidence available to them. For too long, nursing was dependent on ritual instead of science. Caring is important. You can’t be a robot. You have to care about people and care about what you are doing, but you must also be able to understand the science behind the care.”

Beitz, who sits on the advisory board for the website, was also part of a research team that developed an ostomy algorithm, a step-by-step aid that allows nurses to properly assess ostomy patients and their needs, and was also part of a team that developed an interactive online version of the algorithm for use on computers and mobile devices.

She was also part of a research team that developed a new algorithm to help guide nurses and other health care providers in choosing the proper support surface to meet the needs of patients suffering from pressure ulcers.

“We haven’t had that kind of guidance in wound care,” Beitz says. “In developing these algorithms, you have to be able to say, ‘do this or do that’ at certain decision points during care based on evidence gained from controlled clinical trials. This is the kind of process we need to continue to develop for the science of wound care and pressure ulcer prevention. We’re trying to get away from ritual and into the science of care.”

This year, Beitz was one of four Rutgers–Camden nursing faculty members to author a chapter in the newly published definitive core curriculum text books on wound, ostomy, and continence nursing. With the first WOCN graduate certificate program in New Jersey, the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden is taking great strides in filling the need for expert WOC nurses and is becoming a leading institution for WOC care.

“It shows that Rutgers–Camden is nationally renowned for WOC education and we’re proud to lend our expertise,” she says. “It’s an extremely satisfying career. You empower yourself by doing good for others.”

A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and of the Academy of Nursing Education, Beitz received her bachelor’s degree from La Salle University, her master’s degree from Villanova University, and her doctoral degree from Temple University. She also graduated from the Germantown Hospital School of Nursing and received her post-master’s certificate as an adult nurse practitioner from La Salle University.

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