Occupational Health Nurse

Occupational Health Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
This is a nursing specialist who provides health care in a work-related setting.  This highly specialized nursing position is often employed by companies to help insure safety standards are in place as well as to take care of the daily medical needs of the employees.

An Occupational Health Nurse (OHN) may perform many various duties as specified in their specific job description.  They work in the private sector but are still registered nurses.

  • Assist employers in setting and carrying out health and safety standards
  • Assess the health of employees
  • Provide immediate care to employees who are sick or injured
  • Keep medical records for employees
  • Assist with workman’s compensation cases
  • Appraising work environments
  • Educating employees on important medical and safety issues

How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse

The first step for those entering this nursing field is to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, BSN.  It is also important for nurses specializing in occupational health to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).  In many cases it is helpful to gain some working experience as a nurse before entering the Master’s degree program.  It is necessary to work as a nurse in the areas of public health, emergency nursing, or critical care nursing, to gain the knowledge of working with patients with various medical conditions.  The position requires the nurse to be licensed.  Additionally, the nurse should have some working knowledge or training in business in order to practice nursing in the business environment.  The nurse who is aspiring to go into the occupational health area will benefit from taking some business courses and may even want to minor in business.

Occupational Health Nurse Education Requirements , Certification, and Schooling Programs

This is a specialized area of nursing that requires the student to first earn a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree (BSN).  After successfully earning the BSN degree, the nurse must pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.  A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is recommended, with a concentration in public health or in administrative nursing.  It is also helpful to become certified through the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN).  The ABOHN is an independent nursing specialty certification board and sets professional standards and conduct for nurses in the U.S.  There are four types of credentials that may be awarded through the ABOHN including “Certified Occupational Health Nurse” (COHN), Specialists (COHN-S), Case Management (CM), and Safety Management (SM).  In order to be board certified, nurses must meet eligibility requirements and pass a certification exam.

Occupational Health Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

Companies are becoming increasingly concerned with workplace safety.  As a result, the need for qualified nurses specializing in occupational health is on the rise.  The best candidates for the position will have a strong nursing education coupled with plenty of experience working in patient settings. The salary for this nursing position ranges from about $66,000 to $75,000 annually.  The more experienced nurses can expect a salary on the high end of the spectrum.  Additionally, those nurses working in the private sector will typically receive company benefits including such things as paid vacation and medical benefits.