The Certified Wound Specialist (CWS) exam is designed to assess an applicant’s specialized knowledge for the care for persons with wounds. The American Board of Wound Management (ABWM) sponsors the certification, and successful completion of the exam entitles the individual the title of “Certified Wound Specialist.”
An individual must have a Bachelor’s degree and three years of clinical wound experience, or have completed a one-year fellowship certified by a credentialing organization. Also, there are specific criteria an individual must meet to include a résumé, detailed personal statement of three years of clinical wound care and direct patient care, and other requirements deemed necessary by the ABWM.
The Certified Wound Specialist exam is a three-hour, 150 multiple-choice question exam delivered as a computer-based test at a certified testing facility. The examination questions are classified by topic and task. Topics are:
- Wound Healing Environment – 20 questions
- Assessment and Diagnosis – 33 questions
- Patient Management – 30 items
- Etiological Considerations – 32 items
- Professional Issues – 10 items
- History and Physical Examination
- Evaluation and Diagnosis
- Follow-up Care
- Professional Practice
Questions will assess an applicant’s ability to apply theory and practice in the field of wound care and are generally scenario-based.
Registration, cost, and dates
To register for the exam, you will complete a paper application packet. Your packet will contain the required documentation including references, résumé, code of ethics, and the $575.00 application fee. All materials must arrive at the ABWM at one time, in the same envelope. The approval process of your application will take a minimum of ten business days from receipt. Use a delivery service that has tracking available to ensure prompt delivery to ABWM. You may pay the application fee with a credit or debit card, or by personal check.
After your application is accepted, you will receive notification via mail and email with instructions on how to schedule your exam. You are allowed up to three months from the date of notification to schedule your exam.
You can register for the exam online or by phone. Tests are scheduled Monday through Friday at 300 testing centers nationwide. Testing appointments vary by location and are on a first-come, first served basis.
Special accommodation is available for the testing session. To request an accommodation, you will complete the two-page request and give it to the testing center 45 days before the desired examination date.
You may reschedule your appointment at no charge once if you request it by 3:00 p.m. Central Time at least two days before your testing date.
On the day of your exam, arrive no later than the listed start time. If you are more than 15 minutes late, you will not be allowed in, and you will have to reapply and pay the fee again. Bring two forms of identification; one government issued with your photo, signature, and name, and the second with your name and signature (such as a credit card or social security card).
No personal belongings are allowed in the testing center, and scratch paper and pencils are provided. You will have the opportunity to take a practice test on the computer to familiarize yourself with the procedure. The practice exam does not count toward your allotted testing time.
It is essential that you follow the test center rules of conduct. Should you be caught breaking any of them, you may be dismissed and your scores invalidated. You could also lose your registration fee.
Exam results and scoring
At the conclusion of your exam, you will receive notification of your status. You will report to the proctor to receive an examination report. Your score report will show your correct responses and the number required to pass. You may order additional official reports for $25.00 each. It is your responsibility to provide your testing results to your employer if needed.
Preparing for the Certified Wound Specialist exam
The Certified Wound Specialist credential identifies your specialized knowledge and experience in wound and patient care. The signifier of “CWS” indicates to others your advanced professionalism and attainment in advanced clinical care. It is an important, expensive test that can catapult your career forward. If you are going to invest in the credential, take out a little more insurance and invest in a proven study system.
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