Developing a Seamless Succession Plan for WOC Nurse Specialists

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Who’s going to take my place as a WOC Nurse Specialist?” or “Calling 911- I need help NOW?” Does the thought create a ‘pit’ in your stomach as you approach retirement or even burnout?

Many of us are looking at retirement in the next 5 years. In fact, in a WOCN® Society national office communication on Sept. 25th, 2023, noted the aging of its 6,070 memberships, with over 56% of the members 45 years or older.

YES, we need expert WOC preceptors to mentor and train novice WOC nurse specialists!
WEB WOC® Programs wants to help YOU and your healthcare organization educate the next WOC nurse talent! Contact WEB WOC Programs today for more information regarding facility or group tuition discounts to prepare your next WOC nurse specialist replacement!
Some sobering facts regarding the nursing field and nursing education institutions:

Some good news, the millennials (born 1981 to 2000) have embraced the nursing profession in large numbers but not enough to offset the reduced size of the aging RN workforce of 1.3 percent per year from 2015 to 2030.

As we welcome the millennial nurses who beat the admission odds in nursing programs, we know the accrued knowledge, skills, and specialty experience of the expert WOC nurse may exit at the retirement door.

Yes, we need expert WOC preceptors to mentor and train novice WOC nurse specialists. So, what should a well-seasoned WOC nurse do who maybe retiring in the next 5, 3 or 1 year?

Here are FIVE Steps YOU and your healthcare organization can take to develop an effective WOC nurse specialist succession plan:

  1. Document current WOC Nurse specialist competencies and responsibilities in your facility.
    • Assists in development of a job description so management can recruit apprised individuals with the appropriate skillset.
    • List projects, processes, and outcomes you have been involved in that have improved patient or staff satisfaction, reduced pressure injuries, CAUTI, IAD, recidivism, product waste etc.
      • Builds value on the WOC services and benefits YOU bring to your employer.
  2. Assess current talent to identify potential future WOC nurse specialists.
    • Be a Mentor. Who’s the nurse who wants to assist YOU, asks lots of questions, or seems to be intrigued when you are caring for WOC patients? Engage their interest by inviting them on local rounds or patient care, to local WOC meetings or conferences, and share WOC related journal articles to learn more.
    • Be a Cheerleader. Seek out unit-based skin, wound, ostomy nurse champions who may need encouragement in professional development. We need others to believe in us and our abilities to advance our nursing careers.
  3. Develop infrastructure for internal training and mentorship opportunities.
    • Now you have identified a WOC nurse want-to-be(s), let management know so they can assist in the informal mentoring process and onboarding.
    • Advocate for facility financial assistance in getting your mentee or mentees into an accredited WOC nursing education program (WOCNEP). Are there Foundation grants or scholarships available? WOCNEPs often will reduce tuition rates if several nurses attend WOC courses from one facility.
    • Volunteer to precept the nurse once they have successfully completed a WOCNEP.
  4. Integration with retention efforts of the novice WOC nurse – Precepting.
    • Devise an informal orientation, mentoring plan, or buddy system to integrate the novice WOC nurse into your facility’s culture with a start and ending timeline.
    • Invest time and energy into their professional development through frequent check-ins to provide feedback, discussion of patient care cases, and create a question-friendly environment.
    • Discuss concerns and any barriers to providing evidence-based care. Brainstorm interventions or processes to address barriers, concerns, or gaps in knowledge.
    • Promote System’s Thinking by engaging in facility-wide activities together, i.e., development of educational materials for patients with a new ostomy or traveling poster on a new product being introduced, such as a female external collection device, quarterly pressure injury prevalence, and incidence study, etc.
  5. Leverage data to evaluate results.
    • Share with nurse manager outcomes of the informal mentoring program and precepting.
    • Expand or develop outcomes report of WOC related activities to be shared with the nurse manager or facility-related interest groups with a specific timeline, i.e., monthly, quarterly, etc.

Remember, it’s never too early or too late to develop a WOC nurse specialist succession plan! Plus, it is just as strategically important to attain and retain your WOC nurse replacement!

Contact WEB WOC® Programs today to explore healthcare facilities or group tuition discounts to prepare YOUR next WOC nurse specialist replacement!

Steps in a Succession plan was adapted from Karlene Kerfoot, PhD, RN, FAAN, Chief Nursing Officer. (August 26th, 2022). The importance of nurse management succession plan. Manage Healthcare Executive. Accessed September 28th, 2023. (August 26th, 2022).

“A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A wish”  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry