Every year, around 5 million Americans are seriously injured while working. Caring for these people is the duty of an occupational nurse practitioners (ONP), a rapidly growing specialty in the nursing field.
Despite a greater emphasis on safety, job sites remain dangerous places. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 117 workers per every 10,000 in 2011 suffered from employment-related accidents that required time off to recuperate. This represents a total number of approximately 5.5 million individuals. Some of the chief causes of these injuries include:
•Being crushed/compressed by a heavy object
•Highway-related incidents, for those who occupation requires driving
•Exposure to toxic substances
•Cuts or lacerations from sharp or pointed surfaces
•Muscle strains or tears from over-exertion
The responsibility of ONPs in responding to these incidents is twofold. They treat those who have been injured, but also work to prevent such accidents from occurring in the first place. They do so by observing workplace conditions and practices, training employees in safe working methods, and collaborating with business owners and managers to promote workplace safety.
•The specific tasks an OHNP may complete on any given day include:
•Applying first aid measures, such as bandages, splints, or hot or cold compresses to injured persons
•Assisting physicians in more advanced treatment methods
•Assessing severity of injuries and prescribing appropriate medicines
•Leading safety seminars in all types of locations, from construction sites to office buildings
•Investigating unsafe workplaces
•Performing research in a variety of settings, with the goal in mind of reducing the numbers and/or severity levels of work-related injuries
•Promoting good health practices for workers, by training and coaching them in matters such as exercise, maintaining a good diet, avoiding stress, and quitting smoking
ONPs work in diverse environments. Depending on their specific duties. some may spend all their time in a clinic, hospital, or private doctor’s office, providing direct care and counsel to injury victims. Others might divide their time between medical settings and other workplaces, where they consult with employees, managers, and human resource specialists. Others may devote the majority of their time to leading training seminars on injury prevention or doing formal research on accident prevention.
Work is generally performed during the day, and ONPs often have weekends and major holidays off. However, their duties may require them to work into late afternoon, early evening hours, or engage in occasional and extensive travel. Their jobs can be stressful at times, as they must deal not only with injured persons but also with a variety of people with all sorts of personalities and temperaments.
Salaries for ONPs are on the high end of the pay scale, ranging from around $75,000.00 to well over $100,000.00. They may also receive bonuses for accepting certain positions or for staying with an employer for an extended period of time. Factors that affect compensation include amount of training, time on the job, and geographical location.
The demand for ONPs is expected to remain strong for at least the next 10 years, as the number of people in the workplace expands and more and more older persons delay retirement or take on part-time positions. Qualified candidates should enjoy a wide range of career options.
The first qualification an aspiring ONP needs is RN certification. In addition, he or she must have a master’s degree and pass the nursing board’s NCLEX-PN exam. Holding family nurse practitioner certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is not required, but can expand the number of career options available to the candidate.