WOC-EP Program: Description

Program Overview

The Wound, Ostomy & Continence Institute Wound, Ostomy and Continence Education Program (WOC-EP) fosters the acquisition and application of new knowledge and its application in a clinical setting. Graduates are prepared, at a theoretical level, to write the Canadian Nurses Association NSWOC Certification or WOCC(C) exam.

Program Goals

The goals of the program are to assist the learner to build:

  • New knowledge, skills and attitudes and integrate them with prior knowledge, skills and attitudes to prepare the learner to become a competent NSWOC;
  • Familiarity with the literature in the field of Specialized Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing;
  • The skills to critically analyze practice in the field, differentiate it from best practice and disseminate standards of NSWOC practice; and
  • Problem solving skills through case based learning and participation in a strong learning community.


The learner will attain the knowledge required to:

  • Articulate and exercise the professional responsibilities associated with the NSWOC role;
  • Meet the psychosocial needs of the person with an ostomy, continent diversion, acute or chronic wound, percutaneous tube or incontinence;
  • Manage care for the person with an ostomy or continent diversion in the gastrointestinal and/or genitourinary systems;
  • Manage care for the person with a fistula, draining wound, or percutaneous tube;
  • Manage care for the person with an acute or chronic wound; and
  • Manage selected aspects of care for the person with urinary or fecal incontinence.

The learner will acquire the skills necessary to meet the biopsychosocial needs of the person with an ostomy, continent diversion, acute or chronic wound, percutaneous tube and incontinence.

Program Outline

The program consists of three separate core clinical courses and one professional practice course that is taken for 2-weeks at the start of the program and 4- weeks at the end. Each lesson unit includes textbook readings, PowerPoint presentations and journal articles.

All students accepted into the program begin with the first two-weeks of the Professional Practice course that orients them to the program and other key learning materials. They then proceed through Clinical Course I – Ostomy Management; Clinical Course 2 – Continence Management; Clinical Course 3 – Wound Management and finally to the final 4 weeks of Professional Practice. Each clinical course is 12 – 14 weeks in length, including a 2-week (75 hours) clinical preceptorship.

The theoretical component of each course is delivered online with students working at their own computer to complete individual assignments and tests and participate in asynchronous threaded discussion forums within specified timeframes. Depending on prior knowledge, it is estimated that students will spend 10-15 hours per week in study and completion of graded assignments.

To complete a core clinical course, students must complete and pass a 2-week (75 hours) clinical component with an approved preceptor near the end of each course. The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Institute supports students to find a qualified preceptor but arranging for a preceptorship to take place is the student’s responsibility. Students may need to travel outside their geographical area or province to complete a preceptorship.

Working consistently students will take approximately 12 – 15 months to complete the program. Students may extend the time to completion and elect to take a semester off between courses or students may expedite the program and take more than one course at a time (if available).

Ostomy Management

Topics include:

  • Anatomy and physiology of the gastrointestinal, genitourinary systems and reproductive systems
  • Surgical procedures leading to ostomies
  • Continent fecal and urinary diversions
  • Patient assessment
  • Abdominal, stoma and peristomal skin assessment
  • Containment options
  • Fistula management
  • Management of percutaneous tubes

Continence Management

Topics include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Assessment of the patient experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Types of urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Management of urinary and fecal incontinence

Wound Management

Topics include:

  1. Anatomy & physiology of the integumentary system
  2. Wound healing
  3. Bioburden
  4. Wound etiologies
    1. Skin tears
    2. Pressure ulcers
    3. Leg ulcers
    4. Malignant wounds
    5. Surgical Wounds
    6. Diabetic wounds
  5. Focused patient assessment: Intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors
  6. Wound assessment tools
  7. Wound care planning
  8. Topical/advanced wound management strategies
  9. Biophysical technologies in wound management

Professional Practice

Topics include:

  • Critical appraisal of the literature
  • The development of professional writing skills
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Bioethics
  • Consultation and collaborative practice
  • Teaching and coaching