Wound, Ostomy, & Continence (WOC) Nursing

Post-Master's Certificate

Wound, ostomy, and continence nursing has always played a critical role in acute care settings. Now, WOC nursing is becoming increasingly valuable as health care switches from acute care to the outpatient setting and as home health and long-term care mushroom. As the population ages and as care moves to home health and long-term settings, the demand for nurses with this specialized training is growing.

WOC (formerly Enterostomal Therapy) nurses provide acute and long-term support to more than one million patients who undergo ostomy surgeries each year. They also play an essential role in managing urinary incontinence among the 13 million Americans with this condition. They are particularly skilled at managing complex cases in frail elderly patients.

Nurses with specialized training in wound care are increasingly valuable within the acute, long-term and home care settings for their ability to treat pressure ulcers, surgical incisions, draining and traumatic wounds, and tubes and fistulas.

The University of Virginia School of Nursing offers WOC training within its master's degree programs or as a stand-alone certificate program for those with a MSN degree. WOC nursing incorporates principles and practices that promote, maintain, and restore health for persons with wounds, ostomies, and continence problems throughout their lives. WOC nurses specialize in the care of individuals with disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary, and integumentary systems.

The curriculum builds on both the theoretical knowledge and clinical experience of the master's prepared nurse.

The School of Nursing offers three WOC courses annually (two didactic courses and a practicum). The certificate program can be completed within 12 months. The two WOC didactic courses meet on Thursday afternoons in the fall and spring semesters. The practicum is in the summer session. Any MSN student pursuing a CNS or ACNP may choose to focus on WOC as their area of specialization.

Note: Students in the post-master's certificate programs at the University of Virginia are ineligible for scholarship assistance or student loans. University aid is restricted to those who are enrolled in degree programs (MSN, DNP, PhD, etc).

Program Director: Catherine Ratliff, PhD, RN, CWOCN, GNP

Students complete 160 clinical hours in GNUR 6383 in the summer session. Clinical hours are completed at the UVA Medical Center.

Students are qualified to sit for the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing certification from the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board. The WOCN is the only certification in wound care recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA).

Admission Requirements
Admission to the School of Nursing is competitive and based on evaluation of all portions of the application. To be considered for the certificate program, applicants must submit a completed application and:

  • Have a master's degree in nursing from a nationally accredited school (prerequisite or co-requisite)
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate and graduate study
  • Hold an unencumbered RN license from a US state at the time of application.  All matriculating students who are not active-duty military nurses must have a Virginia RN license before the first day of classes.
  • Submit a total of three satisfactory recommendations (academic, professional, and clinical).
  • Submit a copy of your resume or CV
  • Be available for an interview if requested
  • International students have additional admissions requirements

Application deadline: November 1 for fall entry

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For additional information on admission to and programs of study at the UVA School of Nursing, please complete our inquiry form.

Questions on admissions and financial aid: contact the Office of Admissions & Student Services, (434) 924-0141 or (888) 283-8703.