Company nurses or occupational health nurses are registered nurses who use their medical training and clinical experience to treat injured workers and assess job hazards. Work in this field requires a nursing license and the completion of a formal education in nursing. Company nurses can also become certified in occupational health.
Education and Training
Nurses can get a bachelor’s degree, but an associate is the standard. Master’s and doctoral programs may also provide more opportunities. Company nurses must have advanced knowledge of nursing techniques, anatomy, occupational medicine, industrial hygiene and occupational safety. Company workers also have specialized knowledge of workplace hazards, as well as toxicology and epidemiology. They must also undergo clinical education to gain hands-on training working with patients and individuals. Critical thinking, emotional stability and organizational skills are necessary to assess changes in patients' health, cope with stressful situations, and multitask.
Company nurses coordinate the health and safety of workers in industries like construction, manufacturing, meat packing and health care. They are responsible for incorporating health promotion strategies to minimize accidents and teach workers about ways to be more responsible in the workplace. They coordinate health care services for injured workers and counsel workers about non-occupational injuries, as well as facilitate effective communication between injured workers and management. They ensure safety standards are met, and they identify any potential safety hazards in the work environment.
Using extensive medical training and knowledge of occupational medicine and safety, company nurses interpret and document a worker’s medical complaints using medical histories and diagnostic tests. While complying with laws and regulations, company nurses investigate and analyze injury trends, research possible occupational hazards, and collaborate with safety teams and managers. Additional job duties can include managing medical records, creating emergency workplace preparedness plans and evaluating health care delivery systems.
Licensure and Certification
Nurses in all states must become licensed in order to practice nursing. While the requirements may vary by state, typically nurses must complete an accredited program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination offered through the National Council State Boards of Nursing. The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses also offers two certifications in the field. To qualify for the certified occupational health nurse credential, nurses must be licensed and have 3,000 hours of occupational health experience or complete a certificate program. The certified occupational health nurse – specialist credential requires a bachelor’s degree, license and advanced education or training in occupational health.