The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society™ (WOCN®) is gearing up for our first ever online-only annual event, WOCNext® 2020 Reimagined by taking stock of the milestones that WOC nursing and the WOCN Society have experienced over the years. During the next few weeks leading up to event, we’ll be unveiling interesting facts about WOC care and the history of the Society — before revealing a special announcement about WOCN on June 5, 2020.

Join us on a journey through the decades and prepare for a BIG announcement to be revealed here!

Chapter 1/6: 1950 - 1960's


The term “Enterostomal Therapist (ET)” was coined by Rupert Turnbull, Jr., MD Dr. Turnbull trained Norma Gill, who became the first ET at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH! to describe the rehabilitation of ostomy patients.


Enterostomal Therapist (ET) nurses are referred to as Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) nurses.


The first formal “School of Enterostomal Therapy” opened at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.


There are 6 WOC Nursing Education Programs (WOCNEPs) Accredited by the WOCN.


The first professional specialty organization, named the North American Association of Enterostomal TherapyThis Association was later known as the International Association for Enterostomal Therapy (IAET) and is now what you know as WOCN!, was established, and held its first annual meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, with 21 attendees!


This Association is now known as WOCN and holds an annual educational event each year known as WOCNext. This year, WOCNext 2020 Reimagined is an online-only experience. Attendees of this reimagined event can expect to learn from experienced wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) nursing professionals, chat with exhibiting companies, view ePosters and boost their nursing skills all from the comfort of their home or office! The event is free to WOCN members and $200 for non-members. CLICK HERE to register

Chapter 2/6: 1970's


IAET Quarterly became the official journal for the WOC care profession.


The Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing (JWOCN) is the official journal of WOCN and the premier publication for WOC practice and research.


The concept of breaking WOCN into regions was proposed and accepted.


There are currently more than 30 official WOCN regions and affiliates across North America.


ET Foundation forms and incorporates.


The WOCN Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation created and operated by WOCN to oversee two of our most important pillars: research and educationDonations help! Whether you’re a WOC nurse, patient, physician, or family member of a patient, donating to the WOCN Foundation and the Fund the Future campaign sends an important message: you believe in the value and future of WOC nursing. Visit .


WOC certification was first offered by the Enterostomal Therapy Nursing Certification Board.


WOCN updated our certification review courses in early 2020 to ensure that those interested have the clinical resources they need to prepare for the wound, ostomy and continence certification or recertification exams offered by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB®)The WOCNCB is a not-for-profit professional, international nursing organization certifying over 8,800 registered nurses who are specialists in the field of wound, ostomy, continence and foot care. The WOCN Society and WOCNCB are two separate and distinct entities that work collaboratively to support wound, ostomy and continence nursing practice..

CLICK HERE to access our certification review courses.

Chapter 3/6: 1980's


The scope of practice was officially expanded to include the care of individuals with wounds and urinary and fecal continence disorders. The IAET receives accreditation from ANA to provide and approve continuing education programs.


WOCN provides online and in-person education opportunitiesAll our education is designed to provide evidence-based education that advances the practice and delivery of healthcare to patients with non-healing wounds, ostomies, urinary and fecal incontinence. for relevant, on-the-job instruction based on current best practices. Education includes:

  • WOCNext® Annual Event
  • JWOCN (Journal)
  • WOCTalk Podcast
  • Clinical Tools & Resources
  • Core Curriculum Books
  • Continuing Education Center

RN licensure became required for entry into an ET nursing education program.


The WOC nursing programLearn The Pathway to Becoming a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse, in this helpful infographic! is known as WOCNEPs and criteria for admission includes:

  • RN with a Baccalaureate Degree or higher
  • One year of RN clinical nursing experience following RN licensure
  • Current clinical nursing experience within 5 years prior to application to a WOCNEP

Chapter 4/6: 1990's


The IAET evolved into the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society, an Association of ET Nurses (WOCN).


WOCN is the largest and most recognized professional nursing communityThrough relevant education, effective advocacy, cutting-edge science, a supportive network, and a patient-centric approach, we enable professional growth for 5,000+ members and aid in improving patient outcomes! dedicated to advancing the practice and delivery of expert healthcare to individuals with wound, ostomy, and continence care needs.


WOCN website and separate discussion forum was created for topics related to professional practice, wounds, ostomies, and continence.


The forum is an extremely valuable, real-time advice tool that’s available as a members-only benefit.

Chapter 5/6: 2000's


WOCN joins the American Nursing Association (ANA) as an organizational affiliate along with 14 other specialty nursing organizations.


The WOC nursing specialty is now recognized by the American Nurses Association.

Ready for More?

Check back soon to read the next chapter of our story.