March 2, 2015

Nursing Beyond the Bedside: Occupational Health Nurse

The workplace is recognized as an area where innovative strategies are taking place to improve health and wellness of the US workforce. As a result of rising healthcare costs, employers are looking to occupational health nurses to assist employees, and in many times, their families with ways to improve safety in order to reduce workplace injuries and strategies to improve health and wellness in order to prevent chronic diseases.

The roles for professionals who want to specialize in the area of occupational health are extremely diverse, covering any and all of the wide-ranging issues related to occupational health and safety. Occupational health nurses work as clinicians, educators, case managers, corporate directors, or consultants. They also have a broad array of responsibilities, including:

Disease management

Environmental health

Emergency preparedness/disaster planning

Employee treatment, follow-up, and referrals

Emergency care for job-related injuries and illnesses

Gatekeeper for healthcare services

Rehabilitation, return-to-work issues

Occupational health nurses counsel workers about work-related illnesses and injuries, as well as emotional issues and family problems if needed. They refer to employee assistance programs and other community resources to help the employee address challenges.

In addition, occupational health nurses develop health education and disease management programs that encourage workers to take responsibility for their own health. These include smoking cessation, exercise/fitness, nutrition and weight control, stress management, control of chronic illnesses and effective use of medical services.

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