To become a Certified Wound Specialist (CWS), the American Board of Wound Management has professional and educational requirements and offers the CWS Exam. Passing the exam is the final step in certifying as a specialist in wound care, demonstrating a high mastery of knowledge.
Eligibility and Application
Medical doctors, physician’s assistants, physical and occupational therapist, pharmacist, registered dietitians and registered nurses that hold a full and unrestricted professional license in one or more states and have at least three years of clinical wound care experience qualify to complete the Certified Wound Specialist certification.
To apply, candidates must meet the certification criteria and submit their application documents and payment to ABWM for approval. The packet must contain the following documents:
- Application Checklist
- Completed Cover Page
- Application Payment page (whether paying by check or credit card)
- Completed ABWM Application
- Professional Résumé
- Personal Statement/Essay
- Copy of Professional License(s)
- Three Letters of References
When your application is approved, your 90-day testing window immediately begins. You will receive an email and postcard with information about how to register for your exam at any AMP/PSI testing center available across the United States. Test schedules and locations can be found on the ABWM website.
How much does the exam cost?
The cost for first-time registrants is $575. The re-test fee, if needed, reduces to $275.
How is the exam structured?
The computer-based test contains 150 questions, 25 of which are pre-test items that are not counted in the score.
The Certified Wound Specialist Exam will test a wound care professional’s knowledge of the field at a high level. The test includes questions in the following subjects:
- Wound Healing Environment
- Assessment and Diagnosis
- Patient Management
- Etiological Considerations
- Professional Issues
Tasks covered in exam involve history and physical examination, evaluation and diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, and professional practice.
What Happens on Test Day?
Test day can be nerve-racking, yet proper planning can minimize fears. Plan to arrive at the test center 15 minutes early; anyone who is more than 15 minutes late will not be allowed to enter the testing room. Be prepared to show two forms of identification, including a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, and a signed ID that may include a credit card or social security card.
You will not be admitted to the testing center with any personal items, bags, backpack, pencils, paper, and so on. Candidates don’t need anything beyond their registration notice and IDs.
As a warm-up to the test, practice exams are made available at the center without affecting the allotted testing time of three hours. Even so, it may be more beneficial to take the online practice test on the ABWM website in advance.
When will I know my score?
Completed scoring is available at the testing center, immediately after test completion.
Successful candidates will receive a certificate, lapel pin, patch, and welcome materials from ABWM within two to four weeks. Upon receiving the materials, A CWS can print a Certification ID Card from an online portal and may use the initials CSW after his or her name to indicate certification status. Check the ABWM website for additional guidelines.
What happens after I get my score?
Those that pass the CWS Exam become certified for ten years. ABWM requires that certified professionals take six hours of wound management continuing education courses each year and renew their certification annually at a cost of $150. After 10 years, recertification by taking the test is required. Plan for retake day in advance so that the certification doesn’t lapse.
What if I don’t pass the exam?
Those that don’t pass on the first try may apply to re-test for a period of up to two years. After waiting thirty days from the failed attempt, a three-month window for retesting begins. Before that period starts, candidates may submit a form to apply for retesting. After three retests, if needed, candidates are required to submit additional documentation of continuing studies.
How Can I Prepare for the CWS Exam?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!