Occupational health nurses assess and manage the well-being and safety of workers. They generally focus on either direct care or management and consultations. Prior to becoming occupational health nurses, these professionals had to have completed training to become registered nurses.
According to the American Board of Occupational Health Nurses, eligibility requirements for becoming a certified occupational health nurse (COHN) include completing registered nurse training through either a diploma, certificate, or associate degree program, or higher, and passing the COHN exam. Note that most of the occupational health nurse courses are at the graduate level, so many of these programs may require individuals to already hold bachelor's degrees in the field of nursing.
Occupational health nursing courses at the graduate level may review the following information:
- Case management
- Patient education and consultation
- Health-related occupational hazards
- Occupational injury prevention strategies
- Connections among public health, nursing, and business practices
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List of Common Courses
Occupational Safety and Ergonomics Course
Ergonomics, or the science that focuses on the relationship between workers and their environment, is an essential course in the occupational health nursing program. Students learn the principles of ergonomics, along with anatomy, physiology, neurology and more. Focus is then shifted to the physical design of the workplace, worker posture, material handing and lifting. Finally, the course covers the development and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.
Industrial Hygiene Course
Although sometimes divided into separate classroom and clinical courses, industrial hygiene focuses on potential health hazards for workers. Typical lectures cover regulations and legislation relating to occupational health and safety practices, as well as preventative measures and approaches for improving worker health. Students gain more hands-on experience through air sampling, taking measurements, and analyzing gases and vapors in an occupational environment.
Epidemiology deals with disease transmission and control, and this course focuses specifically on the work environment. Students use their problem-solving skills to analyze and draw conclusions about the risk of exposure on workers' health. Through lectures, case studies and hands-on practice, common research methods are covered to help students understand potential associations and causations related with occupational settings.
The toxicology course provides an overview of different types of environmental agents and how they relate to worker health. Specifically, chemical effects on human organs and tissues will be covered. The toxicological process starts with sources of exposure, leading to absorption and excretion, and this course provides students information on federal regulations related to occupational and environmental health. Students are educated to make better decisions for prevention and control once they step into the workforce.