Of the estimated 16 million Americans who have diabetes, 15% to 20% will develop a diabetic foot ulcer.1 There are 2.5 million Americans with venous leg ulcers2; more than 2.1 million have pressure ulcers.3 This year the first baby boomer will turn 60 years old — the majority of chronic wounds occur in people over age 65. By the year 2030, the US population over age 65 will increase from 13% to 20%.4
These statistics represent the societal demographics utilized by companies that develop wound care technologies. Wound care manufacturers realize that meeting the needs of the aging population will demand the development of highly effective advanced wound care technologies that will require clinical educators to maximize their effectiveness.
Within the last several years, wound care manufacturers have increasingly sought to identify, recruit, and hire experienced clinical professionals who have the practical knowledge and experience necessary to provide customers with clinical education support. In addition, many of these manufacturers utilize their clinical teams to provide wound care education and support for their sales teams. This trend has become more evident since wound care products have moved beyond traditional gauze dressings to more advanced technologies such as antimicrobial dressings, negative pressure wound therapy, tissue-engineered products, and countless others that require in-depth clinical presentation.
Recruiters for wound care companies note that wound care clinicians share a similar passion: making a positive difference in their patients’ lives. These clinicians also have the innate ability to share their knowledge with others for the benefit of successfully treating patients with wounds. They are accustomed to deciding what wound care products and protocols will be utilized. They are aware of the challenges of treating chronic wound patients. They share their knowledge with fellow staff members and make a positive difference in the lives of their patients and colleagues. They realize that through cost-conscious product utilization and protocols (many of which they initiated), their organizations have been saved a considerable amount of money. These attributes not only enhance bedside provision of care, but they also present opportunities for different ways to serve the healthcare sector. Hence, facility “wound care experts” are uniquely qualified to take on new roles as Sales Professionals, Clinical Nurse Consultants, Clinical Educators, Clinical Marketers, and various Clinical and Regulatory Affairs positions, leveraging their clinical expertise as well as their love for teaching to pursue a rewarding career that often includes sharing their successes and knowledge with other clinicians.
Wound care manufacturers recognize that knowledgeable, experienced practitioners are assets to their organizations. Manufacturers will compensate clinical expertise — it commands the attention and respect of fellow providers seeking product information. Manufacturers also will provide the training necessary to transition clinicians into their new role.
Wound care clinicians who have taken the leap from a clinical practice to industry often find themselves in a desirable position: they work in an autonomous environment and are well respected and appreciated by their peers and employers. They network regularly with clinicians while working at industry trade shows, attending clinical seminars, and speaking at symposiums and corporate-sponsored training programs.
An example of a clinician active in industry is Clinical Specialist Daniel J. Smart, RN, BSN, WOCN, who recently was promoted to Director of Clinical Affairs, Mölnlycke Health Care (Norcross, Ga). Approximately 10 years ago, Dan transitioned from clinical practice to industry, fulfilling a desire to “try something new.” Believing in the products he sold was important. Dan says, “I am doing what I enjoy — interacting with clinicians and patients and witnessing the positive outcomes of my products.”
Clinicians interested in exploring this opportunity should speak with their wound care sales representatives or industry-based clinical nurse consultants, inquiring how they like working for their current company, why they decided to take the leap, and whether they are happy with their career decision. They should review corporate websites and find the company’s mission statement to determine whether it complements their passions and goals (hopefully, the clinician has had positive experiences with the company’s products and services). The upcoming Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC) in San Antonio, Tex, offers additional opportunities to explore career options — talking with nurses working at an industry trade show booth can yield insights into the pros and cons of working in industry.
Any professional change requires a great deal of soul- searching. Industry positions afford clinicians additional ways to capitalize on their passion for wound care and positively influence others, possibly discovering untapped capabilities in an environment that nurtures personal and professional excellence.
1. Lipsky BA, Pecoraro RD, Wheat JL. The diabetic foot. Soft tissue and bone infection. Infect Dis Clin Noth Am. 1990;4:409–432.
2. Kerstein MD, Gahtan V. Outcomes of venous ulcer care: results of a longitudinal study. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2000; 46(6):22–29.
3 . Krasner D. Prevalence of chronic non-healing wounds. In: Rodeheaver G, Krasner DL. Chronic Wound Care: A Clinical Source Book for Professionals. King of Prussia, Pa: Health Management Publications, Inc: 1990:14.
4 . Task Force on the Future of the Health Care Labor Force in a “Graying Society.” Who will care for each of us? Chicago, Ill: Nursing Institute University of Illinois 2001:7. Available at: http://www2.uiuc.edu/unit/nursinginstitute/pdf/executivereport.pdf .