Career Development

What Does an Occupational Health Nurse Do?

Find out what an occupational health nurse does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an occupational health nurse.

Occupational health nurses are healthcare professionals who specialize in the field of occupational health. They work with individuals and companies to promote safe, healthy working conditions by identifying hazards and risks in the workplace and developing strategies to mitigate them.

Occupational health nurses may also provide general nursing care to their patients. This might include administering vaccinations or providing routine checkups and screenings.

Occupational Health Nurse Job Duties

Occupational health nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Collaborating with physicians and other members of the healthcare team to develop treatment plans for patients
  • Conducting assessments of environmental, chemical, ergonomic, and other workplace hazards
  • Communicating with insurance companies and workers’ compensation boards on behalf of patients or employers
  • Conducting physical exams, such as EKGs, spirometry testing, hearing tests, and urinalysis
  • Conducting employee training on topics such as first aid, hazardous materials awareness, and ergonomics
  • Coordinating safety programs in the workplace such as accident prevention, fire prevention, and OSHA compliance
  • Developing, implementing, and monitoring treatment plans for workers who have been injured on the job
  • Identifying potential occupational hazards in the workplace and recommending ways to reduce risk
  • Interviewing employees about working conditions and practices that may affect their health such as noise levels, exposure to chemicals, lighting, temperature, humidity, and time spent sitting or standing

Occupational Health Nurse Salary & Outlook

Occupational health nurses’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $78,000 ($37.5/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $117,500 ($56.49/hour)

The employment of occupational health nurses is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for occupational health services will continue to increase as more employers provide these services to their employees. Occupational health nurses will be needed to evaluate and treat workers’ injuries and illnesses, especially those that are related to work tasks or conditions.

Related: 25 Occupational Health Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

Occupational Health Nurse Job Requirements

To become an occupational health nurse, you will likely need to have the following:

Education: Most employers require occupational health nurses to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing, occupational health or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in nursing.

Many nursing programs include courses in occupational health nursing, so students can gain the knowledge they need to work in this field. Some of the topics they may study include occupational health nursing, occupational health nursing assessment, occupational health nursing interventions and occupational health nursing practice.

Training & Experience: Most employers require newly hired occupational health nurses to complete a training program. These programs typically last between six months and two years and teach the fundamentals of the job, including how to perform physicals, how to recognize and treat common workplace injuries and how to recognize and treat common workplace illnesses.

Certifications & Licenses: After completing your education, you can seek certification to show your skills and qualifications to employers.

Occupational Health Nurse Skills

Occupational health nurses need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information through speech or writing. As an occupational health nurse, you may need to communicate with patients, other medical professionals and employers. This requires effective verbal and written communication skills. You may also need to communicate complex medical information to patients who may not have a medical background.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make a decision based on the information you have. Occupational health nurses use critical thinking skills to make decisions about patient care. For example, if a patient comes in with symptoms of a certain condition, an occupational health nurse might use critical thinking skills to determine if the patient needs to be referred to a specialist.

Time management: Time management is the ability to prioritize tasks and manage deadlines. Occupational health nurses often have many responsibilities, including conducting physical exams, reviewing employee files, conducting training sessions and completing paperwork. Having strong time management skills can help you complete all of your tasks in a timely manner.

Organization: Keeping records and maintaining a schedule are important skills for an occupational health nurse to have. They may use organization skills to keep track of patient files, test results and other documents related to their patients’ health. They may also use organization skills to schedule appointments, manage their time and keep their work area tidy.

Medical knowledge: Medical knowledge is the ability to understand medical terminology and apply it to patient care. This is an important skill for occupational health nurses because they often work with patients who have medical conditions that affect their ability to perform their job duties. Medical knowledge allows occupational health nurses to understand the medical conditions of their patients and provide them with the care they need.

Occupational Health Nurse Work Environment

Occupational health nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, factories, and offices. They may work full time or part time, and their hours may vary depending on the needs of their patients and the workplace. They may be on call 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies. Occupational health nurses may be exposed to hazardous materials and dangerous conditions, so they must take precautions to protect themselves. They also need to be able to handle stress well, since they may be required to work long hours and deal with difficult situations.

Occupational Health Nurse Trends

Here are three trends influencing how occupational health nurses work. Occupational health nurses will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for a More Holistic Approach to Healthcare

The need for a more holistic approach to healthcare is becoming increasingly apparent as people become more aware of the importance of overall well-being. Occupational health nurses can capitalize on this trend by developing skills in areas such as mental health and wellness.

As the demand for a more comprehensive approach to healthcare grows, occupational health nurses will be in high demand to provide services that address the full range of patient needs. By expanding their expertise into these areas, nurses can ensure that they are prepared to meet the needs of patients in the years to come.

More Focus on Preventative Care

The focus on preventative care is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity among employers. This is because it allows companies to reduce costs associated with employee health care by promoting healthy habits and behaviors.

Occupational health nurses can take advantage of this trend by becoming experts in preventive care. This includes providing education and resources to employees about how to stay healthy, as well as monitoring their health and helping them get treatment when necessary.

A Greater Emphasis on Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has become an increasingly important topic in recent years, as businesses have realized the value of having employees who are passionate about their work.

Occupational health nurses can play a key role in ensuring that employees are engaged by providing support and guidance on workplace health issues. They can also help to create a culture where employees feel comfortable talking about their concerns and asking for help when they need it.

How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse

An occupational health nurse can have a rewarding career in many different settings. They may work for an employer, a labor union, or a government agency; they may be employed by a private practice or clinic; or they may work for themselves.

No matter where they work, occupational health nurses are responsible for promoting the safety and well-being of workers. This includes assessing workplace hazards, recommending measures to reduce or eliminate risks, and providing medical care when necessary. They also provide education and training on safety issues, and they often serve as liaisons between workers and management.

Advancement Prospects

The career advancement prospects for occupational health nurses are excellent. With experience, they can move into management positions, such as director of occupational health services. Some may also become consultants or open their own consulting firms.

Those interested in teaching may become faculty members in schools of nursing or in occupational health programs in colleges and universities. Some occupational health nurses may wish to pursue a doctoral degree in order to qualify for research and university teaching positions.

Occupational Health Nurse Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are committed to the health and safety of our employees. We are looking for an experienced occupational health nurse to join our team and help us maintain a safe and healthy work environment. The ideal candidate will have experience in employee health surveillance, health promotion, and injury/illness prevention. He/she will be responsible for conducting health assessments, administering vaccinations, and providing health education to employees. The occupational health nurse will also be responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date health records.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Provide direct patient care, including assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of common occupational health problems
  • Develop and implement employee health and wellness programs
  • Conduct pre-employment physicals and screenings
  • Manage workers’ compensation claims
  • Perform on-site job hazard analysis
  • Provide ergonomic assessments and recommendations
  • Educate employees on health and safety topics
  • Serve as a resource to management on health and safety issues
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the field of occupational health nursing
  • Maintain accurate and up-to-date medical records
  • Adhere to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations
  • Comply with all company policies and procedures

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Registered nurse with valid state license
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing or related field
  • 3+ years of experience in occupational health, primary care, or emergency medicine
  • Strong clinical assessment skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in nursing or related field
  • 5+ years of experience in occupational health, primary care, or emergency medicine
  • Certification in Occupational Health Nursing (COHN) or Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S)
  • Experience with electronic health records


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