Laurie McNichol, MSN, RN, GNP, CWOCN, CWON-AP
Laurie McNichol has been a registered nurse for 34 years. She is a Master’s-prepared gerontological clinical nurse specialist and has a post-Master’s certificate as a geriatric nurse practitioner. She has specialized in the field of wound, ostomy, and continence care (WOC) nursing for 26 years — 13 in the acute care setting and 13 in the home health setting, where she served as the director of practice and quality in a large, multisite, multistate agency.
Laurie served as the president of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board and was the president of the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society from 2001–2005. In that capacity, she led 2 international professional delegations, one to the People’s Republic of China and one to Russia, in addition to visiting WOC nurses in many states to address their concerns and seek insight into their practice. She was elected to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel Board of Directors in 2007 and from 2011–2012 served as the panel’s President. She is a nationally and internationally known lecturer on the topic of WOC care, home care, health care, and issues related to nursing professional practice.
Why Wound Care?
When I was a nursing student at D’Youville College (Buffalo, NY), one of my clinical rotations was at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY). During the course of that experience, I spent several days with an enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse and was amazed at her knowledge of the products and techniques that brought comfort to patients with wounds, ostomies, and fistulae — she was a clinician, consultant, educator, and researcher. I particularly noted her autonomy and the complete confidence others had in her abilities; she was a clinical leader without management or operational responsibilities. I fell in love with the specialty almost immediately.
Six years later, after working in intensive care, open heart, and inpatient hemodialysis units, I found myself at the bedside working with a general surgeon who noted my interest in wounds. He mentioned a specialty for persons with talent and interest in these challenging patient situations. Vowing to become one of them, I accepted a role as an “apprentice” to an ET nurse (now called a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse). Two years later, I attended a certificate program in wound, ostomy, and continence care nursing at Emory University (Atlanta, GA). Since then, I have never considered doing anything else.
My graduate and post-graduate nursing degrees are in the field of gerontology; my specialty of wound, ostomy, and continence nursing is a perfect complement to the care of the aged. I pursued this specialty to make a difference in the lives of persons with chronic wounds (particularly pressure ulcers and lower extremity wounds), ostomies, and people whose quality of life is challenged by continence issues. My satisfaction comes from increasing patient comfort, easing the burdens of caregivers, and improving competence pertaining to my specialty in other providers.