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Enterostomal Therapy Nurse

Enterostomal Therapy Nurse
Enterostomal therapy nurses, also known as ET nurses, play a critical role in the healthcare field by specializing in the care and treatment of patients with ostomies, wounds, and incontinence. Their expertise and specialized training make them invaluable members of the healthcare team, providing essential support and guidance to patients before, during, and after ostomy surgery. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the responsibilities, education requirements, certifications, and employment outlook for enterostomal therapy nurses.

What Is Enterostomal Therapy Nursing?

Enterostomal therapy nursing is a specialized field of healthcare that focuses on the care and management of patients with ostomies, wounds, and incontinence. Ostomies are surgical procedures that create an artificial opening on the abdominal wall to allow waste products to leave the body. Enterostomal therapy nurses, also known as ET nurses, provide comprehensive care to patients with ostomies, including preoperative counseling, postoperative care, and long-term follow-up.

In addition to ostomy care, ET nurses also treat patients with complex wounds, such as pressure ulcers, and provide support and management for those with urinary and fecal incontinence. Their expertise in wound care, ostomy management, and incontinence issues make them instrumental in the rehabilitation and quality of life improvement for patients with these conditions.

Duties & Responsibilities of an Enterostomal Therapy Nurse

Preoperative Care

Before ostomy surgery, enterostomal therapy nurses play a crucial role in preparing patients for the procedure. They provide counseling and education to help patients understand the impact of an ostomy on their daily lives and assist in selecting the optimal stoma site. ET nurses take into consideration factors such as lifestyle, clothing, and patient preferences to ensure the stoma is placed in a location that minimizes interference and promotes ease of management.

Postoperative Care

Following ostomy surgery, ET nurses continue to support and educate patients on the proper care and management of their ostomy. They help patients navigate the initial adaptation period, providing guidance on how to change ostomy appliances, troubleshoot common issues like leakage, and recommend specific techniques or specialized appliances to address individual needs. ET nurses also offer emotional support and help patients adjust to their new lifestyle, ensuring they can confidently manage their ostomy at home.

Long-Term Follow-Up

Enterostomal therapy nurses provide ongoing care and support to patients with ostomies, especially those who require continued assistance due to disability, age, or visual impairment. They make house calls to address post-surgical pain, monitor stoma health, and help patients with the transition to their new way of life. ET nurses also collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as surgeons and physicians, to address any complications or concerns related to the ostomy, peristomal skin, or stoma output.

Education & Training for Enterostomal Therapy Nurses

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)

To become an enterostomal therapy nurse, individuals must first complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) and obtain their Registered Nurse (RN) license. The BSN program provides a comprehensive foundation in nursing knowledge and skills, preparing nurses for a wide range of healthcare settings. It typically takes four years to complete a BSN program, which includes both classroom instruction and clinical experiences.

Additional Specialized Training

While a BSN degree is the minimum educational requirement, enterostomal therapy nurses undergo additional specialized training to develop expertise in wound care, ostomy management, and incontinence issues. This specialized training may involve completing a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Education Program, which includes a specified number of clinical hours and coursework focused on enterostomal therapy.

Certifications for Enterostomal Therapy Nurses

Certifications for enterostomal therapy nurses are available through the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB). These certifications validate the nurse’s advanced knowledge and proficiency in enterostomal therapy and can enhance career opportunities. Some of the certifications offered by the WOCNCB include:

  • Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (CWOCN)
  • Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse (CWON)
  • Certified Ostomy Care Nurse (COCN)
  • Certified Continence Care Nurse (CCCN)
Obtaining these certifications typically requires a BSN degree, an active RN license, completion of an approved nursing education program, and meeting specific clinical hours and continuing education requirements.

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Where Do Enterostomal Therapy Nurses Work?

Enterostomal therapy nurses can work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, specialty departments, ambulatory care centers, and outpatient care facilities. Their expertise is valuable in both inpatient and outpatient settings, allowing them to provide comprehensive care to patients at different stages of their healthcare journey. ET nurses may also find employment in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or as part of home health or hospice care agencies.


Hospitals are a primary employment setting for enterostomal therapy nurses, especially in departments that specialize in surgical procedures and postoperative care. ET nurses work closely with surgeons and other healthcare professionals to provide preoperative counseling, postoperative care, and long-term follow-up for patients with ostomies.

Specialty Departments

Enterostomal therapy nurses may also work in specialty departments, such as wound ostomy and continence clinics, where they can focus specifically on the care and management of patients with ostomies, wounds, and incontinence issues. In these settings, ET nurses collaborate with other specialized healthcare providers to provide comprehensive and specialized care.

Ambulatory Care

Ambulatory care centers, which provide same-day surgical procedures and follow-up care, may employ enterostomal therapy nurses to support patients with ostomies and provide education and guidance on ostomy care and management. ET nurses in ambulatory care settings play a vital role in helping patients transition from the hospital to their home environment.

Outpatient Care Facilities

Outpatient care facilities, such as clinics and specialized wound care centers, may also employ enterostomal therapy nurses to provide ongoing care and support to patients with ostomies, wounds, and incontinence issues. These facilities often focus on long-term management and rehabilitation, requiring the expertise of ET nurses to address the unique needs of these patients.

Enterostomal Therapy Nurse Salary & Employment Outlook

Enterostomal therapy nurses can expect competitive salaries, reflecting their specialized skills and expertise. According to available data, the median salary for an ET nurse is approximately $86,000 annually, with salaries ranging between $73,481 and $113,000. The exact salary may vary depending on factors such as location, education level, experience, and the employing healthcare facility.

The employment outlook for enterostomal therapy nurses remains positive, as the demand for specialized healthcare professionals continues to grow. The aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions contribute to the need for enterostomal therapy nurses in various healthcare settings. ET nurses often enjoy long-term relationships with their patients, providing continuous care and support throughout their healthcare journey.

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