One of the more interesting areas in which nursing professionals can specialize these days is in the field of occupational health. With the rising costs of employer-based health insurance plans, and the costs associated with unhealthy employees, many organizations are turning to nurses who specialize in occupational health to assist in preventing workplace injuries and developing wellness programs to cut down on absences and improve productivity.
For many years, American businesses remained fairly detached from the personal health concerns of their employees. As the nation has become increasingly reliant upon employer-based health care to ensure health insurance for America’s workers, businesses across the country have taken more of a proactive interest in their employees’ wellbeing. While it only makes sense that any business would want to maintain a stable of healthy and happy employees, much of the rising concern on the part of business has to do with an attempt to control ever-increasing health care costs.
Occupational health nurses are charged with providing more than simple nursing services to the employees of the company that hires them. A major portion of their responsibilities has to do with managing the overall health environment of the business entity. They work to encourage safe work conditions and healthy working habits, while counseling employees on the best practices for maintaining healthy lifestyles. Occupational health nursing is also responsible for creating and overseeing wellness programs within the workplace, and determining health guidelines for the workplace itself. Occupational nurses often create programs to assist employees with workplace stress, obesity, smoking cessation, and other common problems.
Occupational nursing practitioners are most often seen in large construction companies, factories and other manufacturing organizations, and large corporations. They cans serve in a variety of roles ranging from clinical nursing professionals to educators. Some even offer counseling and various forms of crisis management. They are often the first stop for employees experiencing physical or mental health related problems at work. While many of these nurses have frequent daily interaction with the employees of the firm for which they work, others are restricted to advisory roles for management and help to oversee the company’s compliance with health regulations at all levels of government.
Occupational health nursing practitioners are always registered nurses with specialized training. There are several organizations devoted to occupational health, though most nurses who choose this career path seek certification through an accredited board for occupational nursing. Aside from the RN degree, the educational requirements are somewhat different than other forms of nursing since the specialization itself involves more attention to psychology, management, and regulatory knowledge than any specific form of advanced medical treatment.
As business and other organizations continue to switch their focus from providing health care to preventing health problems, it is reasonable to expect a steady increase in the demand for occupational health nursing practitioners. For anyone seeking a career in nursing that combines standard nursing care with administrative responsibilities within an environment outside of the normal hospital or clinic setting, a role in occupational health is an ideal choice.