Our History

The History of AAWC

The Association for the Advancement of Wound Care 

In April of 1988, Health Management Publications, Inc., known now as HMP Global, sponsored the 1st Annual Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC).

Using the SAWC as a forum not only for education but also as the optimal location for networking, a small group of like-minded colleagues gathered in 1995 to discuss how to have more of an impact on wound management. On August 19, 1995, eleven interested colleagues gathered to meet and discuss the development of a new organization.

The Association for the Advancement of Wound Care (AAWC) was officially incorporated on September 18, 1995, in the state of Pennsylvania as a 501(c)3 organization. The intent was to speak to the needs of our constituents and initiate change to impact the field of wound management. Fifteen members comprised the first AAWC Board of Directors. Evonne Fowler, RN, CNS, CWOCN was appointed as Founding President, and Diane Krasner, Ph.D., RN, CWOCN, CWS, FAAN was hired as the Founding AAWC Executive Director. HMP was chosen as the Association Management Firm. 

By the spring of 1996, five hundred founding members were on board as the first AAWC Membership Meeting was launched at the 9th Annual Symposium on Advanced Wound Care in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the debut of SAWC Fall in 2009, there are now two premier forums each year for the multidisciplinary wound care community to meet, greet and share its research and clinical practice.

Two AAWC Educational Wound Image Slide Sets were created for purchase in 1997. These products were not only important for generating non-dues revenue, but also paramount for meeting wound care professionals’ needs for photos for lectures and in-services.

In 1998, the first membership-driven AAWC Board of Directors Election took place. Many Board members have remained on the Board for several years, serving in different capacities from general board members to officers, while new members have continued to rotate in to provide fresh perspectives.

AAWC’s first Wound Care Clinic/Facility Directory was launched at the 1999 SAWC. Since then, it has been updated every year, and it now has over 1000 national and international listings.

Under the leadership of AAWC President Dot Weir, RN, CWOCN (2000-2002) and with the help of the late Stanley Carson, MD, FACS, CWS, Physician Board Member (2000-2002), the AAWC’s website was updated from a simple webpage to a multipage site. 

In 2001 AAWC created its Scholarship Fund. The principle of the Scholarship Fund serves as a rainy-day or special needs account, while gains and interest are used for awarding scholarships. Applications are accepted annually from May 1 – August 31 for education, and travel/exchange programs.

Four AAWC Task Forces were developed for Members only in 2002. Each Task Force had a very specific, yet generalized goal that related to its subject area. Task forces include: Research, Public Awareness, Government and Regulatory Affairs (now Healthcare Public Policy) and Quality of Care. Under the leadership of Laura Bolton, Ph.D., and Lisa Corbett, APRN, BC, CWOCN, the Government and Regulatory Affairs Task Force began with a vision to complete an evidence-based and validated venous ulcer algorithm. 

In 2003 Tina Thomas, the Association’s Liaison at the business office since 1999, was selected as AAWC's Executive Director. AAWC also helped to form and ultimately joined as a participating member of the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders and became a collaborating organization with the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel in late 2003. 

Supported by the AAWC Board of Directors and spearheaded by Dr. Robert S. Kirsner, now Past President of the AAWC (2004-2006), leaders from the AAWC and representatives from major corporations engaged in discussions about a non-branded, industry-wide campaign in 2004. Similar to the “Got Milk” campaign, this non-branded initiative entitled “Advancing the Practice” (ATP) would spread awareness about wound care as a specialty to ultimately advance the field.

Near the end of the industry-wide campaign, AAWC decided to make ATP under its wing in 2005 and redesign its website to include all of ATPs practical and professional enhancement tools, information on guidelines and standards, and educational resources – everything from journals and books to associations and certification, to products and therapies.

AAWC’s main mission in 2006 was to embrace cyberspace. The new website launched later that year, providing a dynamic forum for information access and internet participation in the global expansion of wound healing.

The Wound Care Specialty Task Force was designed to publicly establish wound care as a recognized medical specialty in 2007. The infrastructure consists of four special interest groups: The National Institutes of Health, Federal Drug Administration, Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services and National Quality Forum.

In 2008 AAWC formalized the Regulatory Committee. Their task is to inform Board and membership of changes to proposed regulations impacting coverage, coding and payment and pending legislation that can impact the practice of members and their patients. Also, AAWC released Patient Education Brochure “The SKIN You’re IN” on protecting skin from climate and the environment, which was released in Spanish in 2011.

AAWC released a new patient education brochure “Dress and Compress for Success,” a guide to healing venous ulcers in 2009.

During 2010, AAWC revised AAWC Venous Ulcer Guideline and the AAWC Pressure Ulcer Guideline both published on the AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse. In this year AAWC Research Committee initiated Poster Grand Rounds at the SAWC.

AAWC released its Quality of Care Wound Glossary and formalized it's Corporate Advisory Committee/Panel in 2011.

By 2012, AAWC had initiated the patient/caregiver as a no-fee membership category and launched AAWC global volunteers & speaker presentation training sessions at SAWC.

Educate the Generalist was launched as a core strategic initiative to focus on the education of wound care to the generalist medical specialties, family and internal medicine along with PAs, NPs, and associated allied health professionals that treated and see wound care patients in 2014. Also, AAWC published the Joint Position Document in JWC “Managing Wounds as a TEAM” which was a collaborative effort between AAWC, AUMA, and EWMA. 

AAWC collaborated with the Wound Healing Society and the Canadian Association of Enterostomal Therapists in 2015 to form the International Consolidated Guideline Task Force (ICGTF) to update former AAWC Venous and Pressure Ulcer Guidelines. Today, these are known as International Consolidated Venous Ulcer Guidelines (ICVUG) or Pressure Ulcer Guidelines.

In 2016 AAWC released it's Patient Education Brochure “WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST INFECTION” on prevention and signs of infection. 

Victoria Elliott, RPh, MBA, CAE was appointed Chief Executive Officer. AAWC embarked on a brand and marketing assessment to gradually shift its brand, brand promise and brand experience from a transaction-oriented brand to one that more adequately reflects the true nature of the organization: relationship-driven and member-centric. The AAWC identified that it strives to be accessible, connected and collaborative. In 2017 the AAWC held its first-ever Town Hall meeting at SAWC Fall with Greg Bohn President as emcee. 

During 2018, AAWC launched the first-ever Pressure Ulcer Summit which attracted a sold-out crowd. The Summit featured 37 speakers and moderators and hosted 75 representatives from 21 sponsoring companies and organizations. The Journal Club Webinar Series was also launched. The webinar series is held monthly and uses contemporary peer-reviewed literature to impart key learnings on selected subject matter that is most relevant to members working in the wound care space.

AAWC also sought independence to be optimally positioned for a new future by concluding its relationship with HMP/NACCME. During this transition, leadership conducted a series of virtual Town Hall meetings to introduce the new strategic plan with a focus on three key pillars: education, public policy, and research. In the interim, AAWC management support services transitioned to Talley Management Group in Mount Royal, New Jersey. The annual board elections had been put on hold until AAWC navigated management transition plans.

AAWC's focus in 2019 is to build a stronger association than ever before. With a clear mission, vision, and purpose, AAWC is making strategic improvements to provide its members and their patients with the best resources, ongoing education, and support network available for wound care practitioners in today's medical industry. 

Starting in 2019, AAWC's second annual Pressure Ulcer Summit was another success. This year's theme focused on the patient and how they move through the healthcare systems with a pressure ulcer while integrating research findings to provide a fully informed treatment algorithm. AAWC added “PrU Prevention Programs: Quantify, Justify, Strategize”, a new pre-Summit workshop that provided the essential knowledge needed to maximize the success of pressure ulcer prevention programs. The workshop focused on breaking through the barriers of culturally held norms, monitoring meaningful metrics, and institutionally prioritizing the programs by administrators, clinicians, and stakeholders.

To further improve educational offerings, AAWC created three new Summit meetings. Summits are topic-focused regional education seminars that are targeted to wound care providers and other practitioners. In February, the Summit in Atlanta focused on pressure ulcers, and the April Summits in Piedmont and Detroit focused on wound infection. This November in Sacramento, our LEx Summit is focused on lower extremity wounds education. 

In June, AAWC brought its world-class multidisciplinary approach to wound care with education tracks offered at the Limb Salvage and Advanced Wound Care Summit at the Complex Cardiovascular Cather Therapeutics conference in Orlando. Later this year. AAWC will bring the same approach and education to DFCon in December and to PRESENTS Desert Foot in November, both held in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Looking ahead, the AAWC will also lead a workshop that focuses on compression and negative pressure wound therapy at its Wound Care Tricks of the Trade pre-conference workshop on September 11, 2019, at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, before the Wild on Wounds Conference.

Earlier this year AAWC unveiled a new logo for the association that speaks to its core values. The new logo’s refreshed look represents big changes toward independence and a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and cutting-edge research and treatment. Within the new logo, the letters are styled to represent the process of wound healing, with thick letters becoming thin as the eye moves from left to right. This is the very essence of the AAWC: a multi-disciplinary organization bringing together healthcare professionals from many specialties to provide the best possible care for individuals with wounds. The letters also tilt from left to right affirming the AAWC’s commitment to forward-thinking and action, and a promise to lean into advancing wound care to achieve a world free of wounds.

AAWC reinvigorated its committees and projects with the release of a new call for volunteers that yielded nearly 40 responses from members that are interested in helping with content development, meeting and program planning, scholarship and awards committee work, public policy initiatives, and research projects. Also, AAWC reinstituted its annual elections process. The call for nominations received a favorable response, and AAWC is preparing a full slate for elections scheduled for the early Fall.

Public Policy:
Ruth Byrant, President-Elect represented AAWC in April on Capitol Hill to meet with several House and Senate offices educating lawmakers on the need for increased prevention of pressure ulcers for our nation’s veterans.

AAWC has identified research as its third core pillar. This pillar is designed to bring together the brightest minds and trusted resources in the medical industry to provide wound care practitioners with the research that is needed to effectively treat patients.

In the coming months, AAWC is working to create: a research agenda based on identified gaps in summits, a toolkit for developing a clinical question, and a 3-part education series on research project development.​ In addition, AAWC is working to identify industry projects, starting with a task force to solidify a global common data set​.

AAWC engaged MCI USA as its new association management partner. MCI USA brings 30 years of results-oriented experience and expertise in full-service association management, strategic planning and consulting, creative services, technology solutions, event conceptualization, and more. MCI boasts proven experience in the healthcare sector and has a diverse client portfolio, including the American Health Quality Association, Society for Clinical Data Management, Interstitial Cystitis Association, Incentive Research Foundation, and the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counselling among their association partners.