Occupational Health Nurse

What Does an Occupational Health Nurse Do?

An occupational health nurse provides monitoring and emergency care services in order to prevent job-related injuries and illnesses. Combining their health care expertise with their knowledge of business, occupational health nurses assist a wide range of work environments with prevention services. They help employers carry out health and safety standards, and observe and assess employees’ health statuses relating to job duties and work environment hazards. Occupational health nurses work closely with employers in the development of health and safety programs and customize them according to each individual organization’s type of work, workforce and community. They also work closely with employees interpreting and evaluating their medical and occupational histories, personal complaints, physical examinations, results of diagnostic screening tests and industrial hygiene. The job of an occupational health nurse spans across a wide variety of areas like environmental health, disease management, employee treatment, emergency preparedness, health care services, rehabilitation and return-to-work issues. Typical duties of an occupational health nurse include documenting employee injury or illness, appraising work environments for potential hazards, managing occupational and non-occupational illness and injury and interpreting medical diagnoses to both employees and their employers.

How Can I Become an Occupational Health Nurse?

If you are interested in a career as an occupational health nurse, you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed to practice. Those who want to further their education in the field of nursing can go back to school to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), specifically concentrating on a related field like public health or business. Before entering the field professionally, it is important to obtain a lot of experience working in occupational health as well as community health, emergency nursing or critical care. Many occupational health nurses choose to demonstrate their expertise by becoming certified through a professional organization like the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses. The board conducts a program of certification for qualified occupational health nurses who fulfill all eligibility requirements and pass a certification exam. The exam covers topics like roles of management, education, consultation direct care and case management.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for an Occupational Health Nurse?

As safety in the workplace is vital to a company’s operation and success, those interested in a career as an occupational health nurse will most likely have a positive career outlook. By having someone on staff who is an expert in this area of health, employers decrease the unnecessary risks to their companies and are able to build a good reputation within their communities. Occupational health nurses can work at hospitals, public health clinics, private practices, outpatient care centers, educational institutions, factories and large corporations. Positions in this specialized health field are diverse and pertain to a range of issues dealing with occupational health and safety. Occupation health nurses can work in positions as case managers, educators, nurse practitioners, consultants and clinicians. The salary outlook for these highly qualified nurses depends on the rank of position, as well as the type, size and location of the employer. According to Salary.com, the median expected salary for an average staff nurse in occupational health is $66,513 annually. Those who choose to advance in their careers can expect to earn more, as the median expected salary for an average head nurse in occupational health is $75,305.

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