An enterostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an artificial opening on the outside of the body in order to divert the bowels. These openings, known as stomas, are used to help eliminate feces from the body. This procedure is usually performed when an illness of the bowel makes it difficult or impossible for wastes to evacuate naturally. Stomas are usually located somewhere on the abdomen, depending on the type of illness or procedure.

It is extremely important for patients or there loved ones to learn to care for their stomas after these procedures, as improper care can be messy and possibly lead to complications. Oftentimes, enterostomal therapy nurses are charged with helping patients who have had enterostomy surgeries.

Earning a BSN is the recommended level of education for this career. See Programs >>
 

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What is an Enterostomal Therapy Nurse?
What do Enterostomal Therapy Nurses Do?
Where do Enterostomal Therapy Nurses Work?
How do I Become an Enterostomal Therapy Nurse?

What is an Enterostomal Therapy Nurse?

An enterostomal therapy nurse is a nursing professional that specializes in treating and assisting patients who may need or have already had enterostomies. These nurses may also be referred to as ET nurses or stoma nurses.

Enterostomal therapy nurses not only provide medical care for their patients when necessary, but they are also an excellent source of advice, guidance, and support during a difficult transition period. They can help patient deal with every aspect of having a stoma, from stoma hygiene to how to deal with questions about their stomas.

Due to the long-term nature of stomas, enterostomal therapy nurses often have a steady base of patients or clients. Because they often see the same patients frequently, many enterostomal therapy nurses will have the chance to build relationships and a good rapport with their patients. Many enterostomal therapy nurses also work regular hours and have excellent pay and benefits.

Becoming an enterostomal therapy nurse is not for everyone, however. If you’re looking into this career, you probably already know that you can’t overlook the fact that it can be a messy job. There’s no room to be squeemish or fussy in this career, as you’ll come on contact with urine feces and various other bodily fluids on a daily basis.

What do Enterostomal Therapy Nurses Do?

Before a patient undergoes an enterostomy surgery, he or she will most likely confer with their doctors as well as enterostomal therapy nurses. These nurses and doctors can help patients understand the different procedures and what to expect, as well as help them make an informed decision. During the actual enterostomy surgeries, enterostomal nurses might also be called upon to assist the surgical team as well.

Enterostomal therapy nurses typically play a more prominent role after a patient has already undergone an enterostomy. For instance, they may care for patients who are still caring for surgery. This may involve monitoring them, helping them manage pain, and tending to the fresh stoma.

Unless they are bedridden, many enterostomy patients and their loved ones will also learn how to care for and maintain their stoma from their enterostomal nurses. These nurses will teach patients how to empty and replace the pouch connected to the stoma. Since leaving feces on the skin for prolonged periods of time, enterostomal therapy nurses will also teach patients how to soothe skin problems and how to clean the area to prevent these types of problems to begin with.

An enterostomal therapy nurse is also an excellent source of advice for patients with stomas. These nurses are often able to give patients tips on issues like nutrition and how to deal with their stomas in everyday lives, including at work and in intimate relationships.

Where do Enterostomal Therapy Nurses Work?

Enterostomal therapy nurses primarily work in hospitals and specialists’ offices. You may also be able to find a position as an enterostomal therapy nurse in clinics, home care agencies, assisted living facilities, hospice care agencies, pharmacies, and medical supply companies.

How do I Become an Enterostomal Nurse?

Becoming an enterostomal nurse requires you to earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and obtain your licensure as a registered nurse. You can then become certified through the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Board. In order to sit for the exam, you will need to take complete a WOC Nursing Education Program or have at least 50 contact hours of experience.

Below is the educational path for an Enterostomal Therpy Nurse (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus