Nurse Specialties: Occupational Health Nursing

Occupational health nursing is a career choice that allows registered nurses to work in a variety of settings and cultures. Because the need for this type of nurse is universal, the opportunities for international travel and long-term career paths are abundant. Occupational health nurses must achieve RN status in addition to any industry-specific training they receive prior to certification. Industries that hire OHNs are diverse, ranging from laboratories to manufacturing facilities.

What is Occupational Health Nursing?

Occupational Health Nursing is a sub-specialty of nursing in which registered nurses observe and assess the health and hazards facing employees in many varieties of work environments. The U.S. Department of Labor has dedicated OSHA efforts toward solidifying the role of occupational health nursing in the workplace. More information about the activities of occupational health nurses can be found on OSHA’s webpage for Nursing in Occupational Health.

According to the World Health Organization, Occupational Health Nurses are an integral part of the health system around the globe. The industry is growing rapidly and steadily, as the need for health in the workplace becomes a central focus in multiple industries throughout western and eastern cultures. For more information about U.S. specific issues, contact the American Association of Occupational Health Nursing.

Nursing School Curriculum for Occupational Health Nursing

Like many other sub-specialties in nursing, occupational health nurses must first obtain RN status and work within their field of study for a specific amount of time. Once the minimum criteria is met, RNs who wish to become occupational health nurses may take the certification and licensing exams required to work in their chosen industry. The type of training and education required to achieve this certification varies greatly between industries. Each industry that requires occupational health nurse professionals faces unique health concerns, as explained in the next section.

Careers for Nursing School Graduates with Occupational Health Nursing Specialty

Because occupational health nurses work in such a variety of settings, the career options for this type of specialist are wide-open. Occupational health nurses may work in disease management at a scientific research center, specialize in environmental health, work in disaster preparation at manufacturing plants, and more. The primary role of the nurse in any industry is that of educator and safety office – working with employees to make them aware of health hazards, planning for the prevention of health consequences, and counseling those who are victims of a health consequence in the workplace.

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