Become an Occupational Nurse

Ever wonder about nurses that work in large industrial environments, provide guidance for businesses looking to protect both workers AND employers from healthcare disasters and pitfalls? RNs that specialize in Occupational and Environmental Health typically work in corporate, industrial, and business environments where they directly connect the dots between employee safety and workplace efficiency.

Every year corporations and industries pay out billions of dollars for employee healthcare prevention AND for job place accidents and mishaps, most of which could have been avoided with appropriate attention.

Here’s an example of a current workplace issue to which Occupational and Environmental RNs could be put to work:

  • Smoking remains a healthcare problem in many businesses. Smokers generally are faced with more medical care and health problems than non-smokers and since most businesses pay for part of their employee’s healthcare costs it stands to reason that some have incentive to urge employee’s to quit or else. To those ends some workplaces have instituted smoking cessation programs intended to provide adequate incentive to smokers. Programs like these could be spearheaded and maintained by Occ/Env Health Nurses.

Roles for O/EHN

Occupational Health Nurses may work in a variety of employment settings:

  • Healthcare insurance companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Hospitals
  • Businesses/Corporations
  • Industry

and in a variety of job capacities:

  • Risk Management: an OHN with risk management duties might evaluate one or more workplaces for potential and on-going risks. This could include physical hazards from equipment, site, personal gear, procedures, materials handled, and ergonomics.
  • Case Manager: RNs with case management responsibilities may work closely with employees involved in health insurance situations, in worker’s compensation events, and with employees on medical leave or those injured or sick.
  • Employee Health RNs help develop and administer effective and comprehensive employee healthcare programs, provide regular evaluation, and ensure that all new employees are educated and appropriately set up on the program.
  • Management/Administration: OHN RNs are also employed in upper level management and administration especially those with experience and the ability to help develop and deploy better systems.
  • Consultant OHNs may help short-term to evaluate industrial and business environments, analyze or audit current processes and safety procedures, pinpoint risks and provide feedback to management that could be useful for workplace health improvements.

Education Requirements for Occupational Health Nurses

If your interests lie in Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing expect to earn your BSN at least. Few entry-level RNs go directly into this field. Most get experience in Critical Care, Emergency Nursing, Community Health Nursing or another closely related area.

Masters level nursing, though, prepares experienced RNs for effective careers in this field with a great deal of leverage.

You’ll discover a variety of MSN degrees with Occupational and Environmental health nursing added to them. Besides the core MSN curriculum expect to be required to complete some of the following for the OHN coursework:

  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Workplace Hygiene
  • Issues in Occupational and Environmental Healthcare
  • Ethics in OHN
  • Toxicology
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Education
  • Internship/Practicum

Some MSN degrees in OHN/EHN could also include Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Public Health (MPH), Nurse Practitioner (NP), and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CAN).

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