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Occupational Health Nurse Job Description, Career as a Occupational Health Nurse, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and license

Median Salary: $65,903 per year

Job Prospects: Very good

Job Description

Occupational health nursing has become a very important role within many organizations. An occupational health nurse diagnoses and treats those who become sick or injured while working at their job, and manages their cases throughout the process.

Though patient care is a part of this role, there is much more involved. Occupational health nurses work to evaluate workplaces for any potential dangers that may cause health problems for workers. They evaluate work and non-work-related health situations and injuries, and they may be involved with any type of short-term disability claims that come in. Occupational health nurses provide information about worker’s compensation claims quite extensively, and they are often involved in the evaluation of Family Medical Leave Act benefits.

The role of an occupational health nurse is quite diverse because it involves not just patient care, which is typical in any nursing role, but also rather extensive administrative responsibilities as well. Occupational health nurses may counsel workers on issues such as substance abuse and may educate employers and employees on health and wellness in the workplace. Depending on the company that they work for or the nature of the environment, occupational health nurses may be involved in a wide array of activities, including case management and OSHA assessments.

Occupational health nurses must be registered nurses so that they are adept at providing patient care in varying circumstances. These nursing experts can diagnose and treat workers with illnesses or injuries, and they may recommend even further steps in the workers’ treatment plans. They may work as educators in an organization to promote healthy living and best practices. Occupational health nurses often rely heavily on their nursing background, but they adapt to the environment they work within to complete any sort of assessment and administrative responsibilities deemed necessary. The role of an occupational health nurse may evolve and grow depending on the employer and the environment.

Requirements to be a registered nurse vary by state. There is specific certification for an occupational health nurse, and it is recommended that individuals receive this to serve in this specialized role. To maintain a registered nursing license, an occupational health nurse must meet ongoing educational requirements. To keep the license current, occupational health nurses may have to take classes or obtain required credits in other ways.

How to Get Hired

The best way to be hired as an occupational health nurse is for the medical professional to first work as a registered nurse. This is a specific focus or specialty within nursing, and having a background in patient care can be instrumental in getting hired. It’s important that occupational health nurses have a strong background in dealing with different varieties of patient care because theirs can be a rather comprehensive role.

Occupational health nurses may work on a variety of different aspects of patient care and diagnosis, so experience within different specialties can help an individual to be hired into this role. Having knowledge in certain laws and regulations, as well as about agencies such as OSHA, can also be an excellent way to enter this position.

Because theirs is a very specific type of role and their responsibilities may vary widely by employer, those in occupational health nursing can increase their chances of being hired into similar or better roles in the future by first having demonstratable experience working as an occupational health nurse. Though the environments and responsibilities may vary, having an understanding of the overall role and proven experience working within it can be a surefire way to get hired.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

In general, nursing is a profession in high demand right now. The health care industry is always hiring, even in tough economic times. As more companies recognize that occupational health nurses can be an excellent addition to their staff, occupational health nurses specifically are needed. As companies try to increase the productivity of their workers and decrease the overall cost of insuring their workers, this specialized nursing can play a pivotal role. Companies are looking to occupational health nurses as people who can diagnose, treat, access, and educate workers. These medical professionals can be involved with assessing workers’ compensation claims and FMLA or other short term disability requests. The versatility of this particular type of nursing puts it in high demand.

Working Environment

The working environment for occupational health nurses varies widely. They may work within a wide array of employer environments, ranging from an office to a factory floor. Typically, these nurses have an office of their own where they may consult with patients, and they often have access to a treatment room to provide diagnosis and treatment.

Occupational health nurses may travel to various sites depending on the need of the employer. If they work in an educational type of role, these nurses may have a permanent classroom at the company in which to speak to workers on a given topic. They may not have a typical day as their role depends on the specific needs of the workers and the employer.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for an occupational health nurse is currently $65,903. Depending on the geographical location and experience of the individual, an occupational health nurse can expect to earn anywhere between $59,561 and $73,411. Occupational health nurses typically receive a rather generous benefit package, including excellent medical coverage, paid sick days and vacation, flexible work schedules, and in some instances, even child care.

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