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Nurses and nurse practitioners continue to play an increasingly important role in wound care, and healthcare in general, as the quality-care model becomes more ingrained. This article traces the history of these practitioners and offers a perspective on their future.
Nurses are often referred to as “the backbone” of the healthcare industry. With 3.1 million registered nurses on staff in the United States, this discipline represents the nation’s largest healthcare profession.1 Based on scope of practice alone, nurses focus their care on the “whole” person, the environment of one’s care, disease prevention, optimization of health, and patient advocacy. Their responsibilities and presence within the healthcare continuum have hardly gone unnoticed. For the past 15 years, nurses have consistently ranked as the “most trusted profession.”2 As it pertains to wound care, the hierarchy of nursing with varying levels of licensure, certification, and scope of practice can be clarified to delineate leadership and reimbursement issues to meet current healthcare challenges.3 Additionally, a review of the role of nursing in wound care from a historical and evolutionary perspective helps to characterize the trend towards advanced practice nursing in the wound care specialty.3 This article will describe the origins of the wound care nurse, as well as the nurse practitioner (NP), and how these professionals fit into the current and future quality-based healthcare landscape.