In Honor of WOCN Nurse Week, Desiree talks with Pat

Ostomate Facing Challenges with WOCN Guidance 

“For WOCN nurse week our President, Pat Camp, interviewed Muskegon’s newest ostomy nurse to get her thoughts on the many benefits WOCN nurses have to offer “ostomates.”

What was it that first drew you to become a WOCN Nurse? 

I was drawn to being a WOCN nurse by the complexity of care needed for chronic wound and ostomy patients. I enjoy tailoring my practice to fit each patient’s individual needs.

Can you describe, on any given day, the challenges you help ostomates overcome? 

Ostomates face many challenges throughout each day. Having an ostomy is a life changing procedure and ostomates have to adjust to both a body image change AND a lifestyle change. This adjustment period varies for each individual. The greatest challenge I believe ostomates face is fear. Fear of leakage, and odor, fear of going out in public and having issues (like finding and needing to use a bathroom immediately), fear of being accepted by family, friend, and spouses/(significant other).

On any given day, an ostomate has to adjust their eating habits based on their activities scheduled for the day. They have to empty their appliance frequently and ensure they have no leakage issues. Often ostomates will carry an extra pair of clothes with them if they have activities outside of their home planned. Depending on their ostomy type they may have to change their eating habits and type of food they eat. These are just a few of the challenges ostomates face on a daily basis.

What resources do you recommend for new ostomates? 

I would recommend establishing contact with a WOCN in the area. The WOCN will be able to provide additional resources to ostomy patients. Support groups if available are a great way for patients to discuss issues with other ostomates who may have had similar challenges. The Muskegon Ostomy Association #338 affiliated with the United Ostomy Association of America is the support group in our area. I am happy to be the professional WOCN advisor to this group along with the professional Medical Advisor Joe Salisz MD, an ostomate and co-founder of StomaCloak® an accessory product for ostomates. UOAA puts out a wonderful magazine, The Pheonix, which also provides great information and resources for ostomates.

round table with Desiree stomacloak

How do you think UOAA groups complement the knowledge and experience you offer your patients? 

I believe the UOAA complements our practice by providing patients with additional resources nation-wide and also gives them a sense of comradery with other ostomates.

Is there anything you would like to share with nursing students that might help motivate them to become future WOCN nurses? 

The UOAA sponsors an annual event called ”WannaWear One”. In our area StomaCloak® and the Muskegon Ostomy Association are local sponsors of this event. Student Nurses, health professionals, and community members wear an ostomy appliance for 72 hours to increase awareness. I would encourage all student nurses in every state to participate in this event. Ostomates are forever grateful to students and health professionals that care enough to participate.

Thank you Desiree Miller, RN BSN CWOCN Nurse and Pat Camp, Retired Nurse and StomaCloak President

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