OstomyLife Community

Advice for Ostomy Nurses from Ostomates

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
09/10/18  2:16 PM PST
Advice for Ostomy Nurses

This article about advice for ostomy nurses is one in a series that make up the transcript of our OstomyLife Roundtable Discussion Panel at the WOCN Annual Conference 2018. Our panel was moderated by Laura Cox, Shield HealthCare’s Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist and the guests were: Kelsey Scarborough, OstomyLife’s Co-moderator; Eric Polsinelli, of Vegan Ostomy; and Brian Greenberg, of The Intense Intestines Foundation You can read more about their panel at the WOCN Conference in Eric’s article about the event. You can find the first article in the series, about making the decision to have ostomy surgery here.

Laura: So what advice do you have for ostomy nurses, as ostomates?

Brian: Just for me, I would always suggest to ostomy nurses is: know appliances inside and out. The first nurse that I actually worked with didn’t know exactly how to put the ostomy pouch on and didn’t take the inner seal off and just put it on and everything. She kind of basically just poked a hole through it and it wouldn’t stay. And the first two days when I got home, I kept on putting it on the same way. I actually thought, oh, there’s another layer of seal that I have here. So I know that there’s a lot of different products out there and there’s a lot of different appliances, but knowing appliances inside-out ‘cause they’re going to be different for each person, I think, is something really important for nurses to know.

Eric: I know some patients are sent home with these kits, that contain a whole bunch of different products in there, and some of them aren’t necessarily useful for patients or necessary for patients. I sometimes get people coming to me, saying, “I have this ring and I have this paste and I have this liquid, what do I do?”– and I’m thinking, you may not need any of those. So my advice to nurses would be to just mention that. Some of the supplies that are given in these kits or that are just generally available are helpful in certain situations but not everybody needs to have them, right? Sometimes a wafer and a bag might be all you need. So I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind so you’re not overwhelming patients with like having to know all these things that they don’t necessarily need to know. That’s something that I would suggest.

Kelsey: Kind of in like a bigger scope of things, my advice would be to educate the floor nurses, because Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurses are awesome and they’re experts, but some of the floor nurses have never seen a stoma, they’ve never seen ostomy supplies, especially if they work on maybe a cardiac floor but they’re still going to encounter them. And they still need to know what they’re doing.

Laura: Absolutely. And kind of to jump off of that, one of my best experiences in the hospital was with my ostomy nurse, and it was the first time she saw my stoma after I woke up from surgery. Her words were, “oh my gosh, that is a beautiful stoma.” And that was so impactful to me, because instead of thinking, oh my gosh, I have a stoma, I was kind of proud that it was a beautiful one, that it was really well formed, that it protruded. And so I think just being that positive person to say, “oh, it looks good,” or “oh, you will be able to live your life” or connect them to other resources like any of the people up here who talk about climbing with an ostomy, diet with an ostomy, and living a full life with an ostomy. I think that support is really important as well outside of the hospital, because ostomy nurses know so much about the pouching and the skin care, but we can talk about intimacy and how to tell a partner about our stomas, and diet and all sorts of lifestyle stuff. We really enjoy educating people, because that’s part of what makes this all worth it.

For more information, see related articles and ostomy resources here:

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
Dear Laura, I wear a two piece ostomy bag. I need help with concealing an ostomy bag. When I move around my shirt hikes up and the tip of the bag peeks out from under my shirt.
Hi Tom, I have a few suggestions that may help!
First, I'm wondering if a stealth belt would be a good option for you. This is a black belt that you can conveniently tuck your pouch...


1 Comment

  1. Marie
    Posted October 11, 2018 at 7:33 pm PST

    Being genuinely sympathetic – because it is major life change – is super important but seek to find a moment to add a chuckle too

    I was very blessed to have the head of the WOC nurses not only answer every question I had (more than once) but also mark me in a place that has worked perfectly for me. She was awesome! Still is!

    Aside from her, though I had several amazing nurses the many weeks I was in the hospital last year, one in particular stood out because (and as it was previously mentioned many have never even seen a stoma) this other gal, who was one of my charge nurses, was the first to show me me how to burp my bag. She had the best sense of humor! Now I realize not everyone may have that as a patient but she read me right. I guess when you’ve already named your stoma before she arrives it’s safe to say you have a sense of humor too

    We go through so much with getting to the point of needing that surgery, being “light” helps – I think anyway.

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