A Guide to Occupational Health Nursing

Occupational health and safety specialist work with employers to develop policies and procedures to promote healthy working habits and environments, ensure safety and balance both of these needs with the financial needs of the organization. Occupational health nursing is a subfield that focuses on providing direct healthcare to employees.

A career as an occupational health nurse includes duties such as coordinating service programs, advocating for employees’ health rights, providing health education and conducting safety inspections of the workplace. These nurses often work in manufacturing facilities, hospitals and medical centers, though other industries and sectors sometimes employ occupational health nurses as well.

Career Growth

Demand for occupational health and safety personnel is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. The introduction of new health and safety standards in the workplace, as well as the creation of new technology, will create more demand for the occupation. Workers are remaining employed at older ages as well, which leads to more need for safety regulations and attention to occupational healthcare.

Salary Potential

The BLS reports the median salary for occupational health and safety specialists as $77,580. Salaries tend to be higher for those employed by the federal government, in the professional, scientific and technical industry and in the manufacturing industry.

Most occupational health nurses work full time, and weekend or evening work is occasionally required in emergency situations.

Education Required

An occupational health nurse typically needs a bachelor’s degree in nursing, health and safety, or a related field. A degree in biology, engineering or a similar technical field may also be acceptable in certain workplaces, and some positions require a master’s degree in industrial hygiene, health physics or something similar, according to the BLS.

Occupational health nurses must be familiar with technology, have good communication skills and problem-solving skills, be detail oriented and have good physical stamina. They must be registered nurses with an unencumbered license; requirements for licensure vary from state to state. Additional certification in occupational health and safety is voluntary, but can be helpful to occupational health nurses.

Online RN to BS Program from Rivier University

Rivier University’s RN to BSN online degree gives students the skills and knowledge needed to excel in careers such as occupational health nurse. The program takes place in a convenient and flexible online learning environment that accommodates students’ personal and work schedules.

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