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  1. Siegel, Tracey J. EdD, MSN, RN, CNE, FAADN

Article Content

Dear Editor,


As a nurse who recently decided not to recertify as a wound, ostomy and continence nurse (CWOCN) as I am approaching retirement, I read the editorial Are we failing our Ostomy Population (Dale et al., 2019) and the article A Day in the Life of a Home Health Ostomy Patient (Lynggard-Hysell, 2019), with great interest. I worked as a CWOCN in acute care for many years before transitioning into a faculty position in a community college 18 years ago. As I read both articles, I honestly wanted to cry. I had hoped something had changed, but apparently the disjointed care of our ostomy population has remained a constant. Quite frankly, I am not surprised. Many acute care hospitals say that they are focused on patient-centered care and use all the buzz words that are so prevalent in healthcare today, while simultaneously cutting staff and placing more and more demands upon the bedside nurses.


My primary motivation for becoming a CWOCN back in 1992 was my experiences with the postoperative management of ostomy patients. I saw firsthand the lack of patient education and our failure as nurses to provide empathetic, evidence-based care and teaching. I convinced my employer that an "ostomy nurse" was sorely needed in my facility. Fast forward 27 years, and there have been few significant changes. We have mandates for discharge education, teach backs, medication reconciliation, and safe discharge plans, yet Keagan Lynggard-Hysell was left stranded with few resources or supports shortly after discharge.


Every year I do a lab with my nursing students about ostomy management. During this lab, I hear their stories about ostomy patients who were neglected in the clinical setting or the fear of new staff nurses when they are assigned to their first ostomy patient. I get dramatic when I tell them stories about the many ostomy patients I had the privilege of caring for in my practice. We brainstorm why the ostomy stigma remains and I encourage them to remember our lab and our conversation when they graduate. I have the students do actual pouch changes and we design a plan of care that includes both the short- and long-term nursing goals. The literature demonstrates that many other nursing programs are actively integrating ostomy care into their curricula (Kerr, 2015; Reed, 2012). Despite this, there is no guarantee that all nursing students will get the opportunity to provide hands on care to a real patient. I want to thank you for publishing this; perhaps it will start a needed conversation among all stakeholders.




Dale B., Burgess-Stokes J. J., Gleba J. (2019). Are we failing our ostomy population? Home Healthcare Now, 37(5), 245-246. [Context Link]


Kerr N. (2015). Ostomate-for-a-Day: A novel pedagogy for teaching ostomy care to baccalaureate nursing students. Journal of Nursing Education, 54(8), 445-449. [Context Link]


Lynggard-Hysell K. (2019). A day in the life of a home health ostomy patient. Home Healthcare Now, 37(5), 299. [Context Link]


Reed K. S. (2012). Bags and blogs: Creating an ostomy experience for nursing students. Rehabilitation Nursing, 37(2), 62-65. [Context Link]