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An Occupational Health Nurse Requires the Proper Education and Skills

Higher Education Articles August 30, 2013

Dangerous work environments cause devastating effects on employees’ health, if not receiving the necessary treatment from an occupational health nurse. Occupational health nurses are registered nurses who often receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees as they assess the workers’ health, treat illnesses or injuries, and help companies develop safety and health programs for all employees.

Nursing professionals in this field have diverse roles based on the industry field they are working in (construction, health, meat packing and manufacturing), as well as varied job duties based on their work position. Possible job positions include clinicians, consultants, case managers, and educators, according to the ExploreHealthCareers.org. Based on the job position the occupational nurse has and the industry they are working in will dictate the type of education and skills they should have to complete their job duties. Read the article information below to find the basic education and skills needed to become an occupational health nurse.

Occupational Health Nurse Education Requirements

Nursing professionals seeking to become an occupational health nurse must first receive the required education to be certified registered nurses. This requires a nurse to attend a community or vocational school to obtain an associate degree in nursing, or attend a four-year university to take the RN-BSN program courses. Other nurses receive the necessary training and education for a master’s degree as they become certified nurse practitioners before specializing in occupational health.

Students will normally learn about injury prevention, assessment of workers’ health issues, treatment and developing health programs. Intervention and identification of health hazards are additional core subjects students will learn in class, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

All people in the nursing profession must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to first become certified registered nurses. After certification, continued education and clinical training in occupational health may be obtained through the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Nurse practitioners must receive certification through the American Board of Occupational Health Nurses to be called an occupational health nurse.

Each state has particular requirements and guidelines for a person to practice nursing. So, an occupational health nurse will need to follow guidelines to receive a state nursing license, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Skills of an Occupational Health Nurse

Prevention, intervention, and treatment encompass most of an occupational health nurse’s job duties. During educational courses and training, the nurses will acquire skills that will let them effectively complete their roles in this nursing profession. Certain skills to have as an occupational health nurse include:

Detail Oriented Skills

Occupational health nurses must be detailed oriented to document all health hazards in the work environment and any injuries caused by these hazards. They must accurately describe and report all working conditions while forming plans for safety and health programs for the company.

Communication Skills

Great oral and written communication skills allow occupational nurses to handle workers’ responses and complaints about exposures and dangerous working conditions. This interpersonal skill is also needed for the nurses to give treatment to workers who have injuries or illnesses, along with performing follow-up communication to find out about the worker’s recovering health and to issue follow-up care.

Analytical Skills

Assessment of the working environment, identifying dangerous health conditions, and implementing emergency planning are all part of the analytical skills that nurses in this professional field should have. Analytical skills also allow the occupational health nurse to monitor a worker’s health and recommend the proper treatment.

Occupational Health Nurse Profession

Proper education, training and certification permit a nurse to seek this specialized field to become an occupational health nurse. As a highly skilled nursing professional, people in this field can seek employment in a number of industries with companies eager for their services.

So, it is essential for nurses seeking to advance in this field to receive as much education and training as they can for certification. Before enrolling in an educational program, ensure that it has been reviewed and approved by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, so you are receiving approved coursework.

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