What Does an Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner Do?
An Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner, or OHNP, specializes in health and safety in corporate, industrial, governmental, and academic settings. According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), the first occupational nurses were employed more than a century ago. Betty Molder, a nurse who cared for sick and injured coal miners, as well as their families, was the first nurse designated as an occupational health nurse.
Education requirements to be an Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner are as follows:
- Master's degree in nursing (MSN)
- MSN in community health nursing
- MSN in occupational health nursing, family nurse practitioner
- Master's of public health, occupational health nurse
- MSN in primary health, occupational health nurse practitioner
- MSN in environmental health, occupational health nurse
Licensure requirements are typical of any nurse practitioner:
- Registered Nurse license
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse license
- Certification is optional but valued
Upon completion of a master's degree in nursing, graduates may sit for the national certification exam through the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) if they want to pursue a career in the field. National certification as either a Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) or a Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S) is frequently sought as a way to advance careers and earn higher salaries as occupational nurses. These certifications can ensure your employers that you understand the requirements of regulatory agencies and certain protocols such as OSHA, FMLA, ADA, DOT, HIPAA, etc. To qualify for COHN status, applicants must have an associate degree or higher with an active RN license. To qualify for COHN-S status, applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher with an active RN license.
A main focus of occupational nursing is treating work-related injury, stress, and/or illness. Education, training seminars, and employee health fairs are also a huge part of occupational nursing.
Treatment of work-related illness and injury:
Hazardous materials, toxins, and heavy machinery can cause acute illness or injury at the worksite. You may find yourself treating burns of all extents, abrasions, fractures, sprains, strains and other injuries typical of this work environment.
Education, training, and programs:
- Wellness programs for weight loss, tobacco cessation, exercise, and nutrition.
- Safety education with the use of hazardous materials, waste, and operating heavy machinery.
- Training on how to use emergency health equipment such as eye wash stations.
- Health fairs to ensure employees receive any needed vaccinations and health pre-screening tools such as blood pressure glucose levels and cholesterol levels.
Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners can increase employee retention by making the work environment safe and satisfactory, reduce worker's compensation claims, and help administration abide by OSHA, FMLA, and HIPAA regulations. They also can observe current practices and make any necessary changes to produce a safe and efficient environment for staff and upper management alike.
Staying compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations is a concern for many businesses and a top reason for hiring these professionals. The duties go way beyond dangerous professions and can be involved in multiple business types.
An OHNP may work in any of the following atmospheres:
- Urgent Care Clinics
- Counseling centers
- Onsite at factories, warehouses, industrial plants
- Schools and universities
- Government offices
- Other medical facilities
Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners are a vital part of healthcare and creating a beneficial workplace for employers and employees alike.