Ostomy nurses are generally associated with a larger group called WOC Nurses (Wound, Ostomy and Continence). Originally, ostomy nurses started out as something called Enterostomal Therapists in the 1960s. The first association of these types of nurses went through some turbulent times before eventually becoming the WOCN Society.
Because ostomy nurses spent so much time learning about how to care for ostomies, they learned a lot about wound care. And incontinence and ostomy nurses have a great amount of knowledge about how the bladder and intestines work. But each of these nurses has their own specialty.
Ostomy nurses often meet their patients before the surgery takes place. They are the ones with the answers and make the time to discuss the life changes with the patient and their family. Oftentimes, they’re the ones that make recommendations on where the stoma should be placed, after discussing the placement with the patient and watching how that person sits. They also walk the patient through their feelings about the stoma, and may recommend discussing the upcoming surgery with someone who has already experienced it.
After the surgery, ostomy nurses are there to show patients how to use their ostomy pouches and answer more questions. They still may be helping the patient to emotionally deal with the impact of their new stoma.
Many nurses, of all types, may connect deeply with their patients. And many patients also connect with and remember their nurses. But ostomy nurses are there during such a huge and often positive life-changing event, they deserve a special shout out. So thank you, WOC Nurses! You are appreciated.