Occupational Health Nurses are Registered nurses who offer their services in the workplaces of organizations and institutions. They may have various roles including the immediate treatment of employees and to take preventive steps in order to ensure the safety of the workers. They may find employment in government, industrial as well as academic settings. However, they are more likely to be found in commercial and manufacturing facilities or construction sites. Some of them may also work independently instead of choosing a fixed employer and offer consultations and services to multiple clients, thereby enjoying flexible work timings and different other perks.
What Does An Occupational Health Nurse Do?
The occupational health nurses work towards maximizing the productivity of the employees working under different companies by taking care of their health in the work area. They are required to work in close collaboration with the management team as well as the employers and develop various safety standards in order to maintain a general well being of the employees. They address all the issues such as claims for disability and injury which in reducing the absenteeism of an employee by a great degree.
Occupational Health Nurses may also act as advocates for employee welfare and see if they have been receiving proper health care at work. It is one of their duties to ensure that the environment in the workplace remains safe for all the employees. In order to ensure this, they recommend various preventive measures, especially concerning the use of machinery, heavy equipment, and toxic substances.
It can never be known when an illness is going to strike. Therefore, the occupational nurses are required to be on site at all times of the working hour. They usually have working shifts of about 8 hours. However, they may extend this by working part-time or even work in a rotation with other occupational nurses. They should have the skill and expertise to take care of all types of medical issues that can crop up in the workplace. They should have a full supply of the emergency medications at all times, so that the person experiencing ill health might be given a prompt treatment. They are also the ones who give the first aids in case of injuries. These are some of the core duties of people working in the area of Occupational Health Nursing.
The work areas that have a higher number of workforces also have a higher demand for the occupational health nurses. In fact, it is quite common for larger firms to employ more than a single occupational health nurse. The companies may also hire a full-time doctor, especially if the work taking place on site is of the hazardous type. However, in case of works that are not so hazardous, the firms may opt for multiple nurses in order to bring down the cost of healthcare.
Being the main in charge of health care in their working area, occupational nurses have various duties and responsibilities that they are required to fulfill. Their first responsibility is to find out if all the employees are present on any given working day. For this, they are required to maintain a list of the employees working for the firm. Furthermore, they should have good knowledge about the medical conditions of all employees, say for example, when someone suffers from allergies. Such knowledge helps them to prepare in advance for a proper treatment in case any situation is to crop up during the working hours. Therefore, the employees may inform the occupational nurses about their medical conditions and ask them to stock up on some specific medicines that could come useful in case of emergencies.
One of the main Roles occupational nurses play is to prepare a complete list of all the medications required for first aid as well as the vital equipment that are involved in primary health care. It is their duty to make sure that these supplies are available at all times. Sometimes, the nurses are also given their own offices or an infirmary wherein to treat the patients. The infirmaries may also have a few beds where the patients may lie down while experiencing ill health. However, if the medical issue is beyond the expertise of the occupational nurses, an ambulance is called right away and the case is transferred to a proper physician. In such cases, the occupational nurses may give a briefing to the paramedics about the medical condition of the patient and current symptoms the patients have been suffering.
These are just a few of the occupational health nurse job description. They have more duties and responsibilities in their area of work.
Important Duties Of An Occupational Health Nurse
- In the absence of a doctor, occupational nurses are the main health care providers for the employees whenever the employees are taken ill. Many firms also do away with the doctors entirely and place the full responsibility on the patients.
- They provide primary care and medicines to the patients and call for an ambulance if the condition seems to get worse
- It is the occupational nurses who decide if a patient should take leave. Furthermore, they also mention the time period for which the leave is required.
- When an employment makes claims for disability, the occupational nurses are required to make an assessment of the same.
- In a few cases, the nurses may also be required to testify during the legal proceedings
- They assess standards in the workplace for the employees.
- They may hold lessons or educational programs from time to time in order to educate the nurses about the safety and preventive measures
- They may offer to counsel if the employees are not in a positive mental health
- They ensure that all the necessary medicines and equipment are available at all times.
- They may prepare reports for the employees from time to time.
The working hours for an occupational nurse are decided by where they choose to take up the employment. It is normal for them to work 40 hours per week. Most often, they have the usual 9 to 5 shifts. However, if the employees are working during the night, they may also have to take rotational or night shifts. It is also very normal for the occupational nurses to work part-time or work as a part of a larger team of health care providers.
Occupational Health Nurse Education Requirements
The occupational nurses are required to fulfill specific Education requirement before opting for employment. Given below is a step by step guide to being an occupational health nurse.
1. Acquiring A Nursing Degree
This is the very first step towards becoming an occupational nurse. The candidates can choose between a bachelor’s degree program in nursing or associate nursing at the undergraduate level. Both these courses take 4 years for completion and involve both classroom education as well as a practicum in clinics. Some the common courses taught at these levels include physiology, nutrition, anatomy, psychology and the primary medical procedures.
Although a nursing degree can make the candidates eligible to start work as an occupational nurse, the amount of education and experience tend to play a large role in determining the job prospects as well as the salary. Therefore, the interested candidates can continue their education to advanced levels and opt for a master’s degree, which is a 2-year course.
Simply taking up a nursing course does provide the candidates with the required licensing. For this, they are required to appear for and crack the NCLEX-RN, which is a national level examination conducted in order to assess of the aspiring nurses have enough knowledge and skills required for becoming a registered nurse. Other steps involved in the licensing include fingerprint submission and a background check of the employees. Even after the licensure, the nurses are required to renew their certification on a timely basis in order to keep it valid.
3. COHN Certification
The COHN or Certified Occupational Health Nurse can only start practice after they have received a certification from the American Board of Occupational Health Nurses. In addition to the qualifying Education requirements, the candidates are also required to have occupational health nurse Skills such as excellent communication and observation, patience, compassion, composure and advanced knowledge in various areas of health, particularly public safety.
Occupational Health Nurse Salary
Occupational Health Nursing is one of the fasting growing professions for the nurses working in the United States. There have been estimations that the job prospects are going to grow by as much as 19% by the year 2022. They are also in very high demand, mainly to prevent ill health and injuries in the work area, but also due to a growing concern for the lawsuits filed by employees against the employers. Different surveying bodies have made their own research and prepared reports to indicate the salary of the occupational nurses.
Salary Of Occupational Health Nurse
According to estimates, the occupational health nurses in the United States earn an average Yearly salary of $69,000 while the average starting salary can be $49,000. 1 It should be noted that calculations for all of the figures mentioned in this section are based on data collected from at least 2,057 places. The information is collected from all types of firms, large or small, old or new in order to make sure the calculations are fair. The participants in the survey include both the employers as well as the employees.
Occupational Nurses are difficult to find with the United States, mainly due to a lack of candidates who are well versed in their fields so as to be able to work independently as the primary health care provider. The reports published after the surveys also mentioned that only three-fifths of the entire strength of occupational nurses have an experience exceeding three years.
There are a number of things to tend to influence how well the occupational health nurses get paid. This could include the geographic location of the area of employment, the economy in the surrounding area, state legislation, education credential of the nurses as well as career length and the amount of experience. However, out of all these, the geographic location of the work area tends to have the biggest role in the influencing the occupational health nurse pay. Many times, the nurses are offered a number of medical benefits by their employers. These nurses are also reported to have a very high level of job satisfaction.
It was seen earlier that the highest 10 percent of the nurses earned a median salary of $86,538 while the lowest 10 percent earned $57,623 on a yearly basis. 2 For example, occupational nurses offering their services in larger and nationally recognized companies may have a better salary range as compared to those working in small companies. The most recent salary report for occupational nurses publishes on the Jan 2, 2018 mentions that the annual salaries can lie anywhere in between $49,615 and $86,947 depending on the influencing factors. 3 The data for this survey was collected by Certified Compensation Professionals across many different departments of all sizes providing employment to the occupational nurses. The same report also suggested the average hourly salary to be $30.97. It could lie anywhere in between $22.19 and $40.52. 4
Washington DC is the highest paying by the state for the occupational nurses with an annual salary of $95,000, followed in line by Massachusetts and New York. Given below is a table showing the annual Wages for these top-paying states.
Highest Occupational Health Nurse Salary Paying States
|STATE||ANNUAL MEAN WAGE|
Currently, the job vacancies for the occupational nurses are growing at a faster than average pace. It is estimated to grow by almost 26% by the year 2020. There have been many reasons for this growth spike. It can also be very lucrative for the candidates given an increased compensation benefits and medical insurances.