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Enterostomal Therapy Nurse
An enterostomal therapy nurse is one who specializes in various aspects of the ostomy. The ostomy is a device that is inserted into the stomach wall to replace a portion of the colon which was removed due to a variety of conditions including colon cancer. This ostomy serves as the elimination route of feces; therefore, it must be properly maintained and sanitized each time it is used. The enterostomal nurse has the specific job duties of not only providing this type of care to patients but to also provide training and education to the patient and their family in an effort to eliminate the need for the nurse in the future. Because of the intense knowledge needed and infection control issues associated with this specialty, the nurse must have an extensive college education as well as certification in the area of ostomy care before gaining the title of enterostomal therapy nurse.
Certification and Education
There is extensive education required to be qualified as an enterostomal nurse including an undergraduate degree as well as certification. The undergraduate degree should be in the form of a Bachelors degree, although some employers will accommodate for a registered nurse with just an Associates degree, although this is generally only if the nurse has extensive experience. While some employers may allow for just a two year Associates degree, you may be required to have the four year Bachelors degree to be qualified for the certification exams as well as continuing education courses. The Bachelors degree typically lasts about four years, although it can be shortened to three years if you choose to attend one of the top online universities offering distance learning programs as well as accelerated programs. Once you earn your degree, you will be given the title of registered nurse, allowing you to gain employment in the healthcare industry. After you have gained experience in the field, generally three years, depending on the specific continuing education courses you have completed, you may be eligible to take the certification exam to become a certified enterostomal therapy nurse.
Job Duties of Enterostomal Therapy Nurse
A certified enterostomal therapy nurse will have numerous job opportunities, including healthcare facilities, home health, long-term care and office settings. This specialty involves both educating the patients and their families as to the proper care of a new ostomy as well as caring for the ostomy after it has been implanted into the patient. While this type of procedure completely changes the way of life for the patient, the patient must be able to properly take care of their ostomy bag before they can be released from the hospital or the care of home healthcare nurses. The enterostomal therapy nurse has the duty of cleaning and sanitizing the ostomy until the patient can do it by themselves. This will involve removing the ostomy, rinsing it, ensuring the ostomy is completely dry and then reattaching it and ensuring the ostomy is secure to prevent any leakage. As the enterostomal nurse performs the cleaning of the ostomy, they are also showing the family and the patient how to do it and after watching for a few times, the nurse will pass the responsibility onto the responsible party and watch as they perform the ostomy care to ensure they know how to successfully keep the ostomy clean and sanitized.
If you want to become an enterostomal therapy nurse, you need to find an online college and enroll in classes today!