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Occupational Health Nurse School

Programs in occupational health nursing are offered at many colleges and universities at the graduate level, including graduate certificate, master's and doctoral degree programs. These programs are specifically designed for practicing registered nurses (RNs) and teach them how to develop wellness, health and safety programs for workers in business and industry.

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Occupational health nurses provide emergency care, implement safety measures and develop programming aimed at minimizing health and safety risks or promoting general wellness at workplaces. There are many graduate schools that train RNs in this field.

Schools with Occupational Health Nursing Programs

According to the 2016 rankings of U.S. News and World Report, these are some of the top nursing graduate schools in the United States:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral $31,068
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $48,710
University of California-San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral In-state: $11,220 Out-of-state: $26,322
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Master's In-state: $15,207 Out-of-state: $27,255
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral $47,590
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral $38,592
University of Maryland--Baltimore Baltimore, MD 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $12,944 Out-of-state: $28,328
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral In-state: $20,638 Out-of-state: $41,688

Source: U.S. News and World Report, NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Here is some advice for students who are trying to choose a nursing school:

  • Look for a program that follows the guidelines of the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) and prepares students to sit for the occupational health nurse certification exam.
  • Make sure you meet the minimum educational and professional requirements for the school's program, which usually include an R.N. license.
  • Find out how much practical experience in occupational health settings is included in the program's curriculum.
  • Examine the lecture course offerings to make sure they meet your educational needs.

Master's Degree Programs in Occupational Health Nursing

Master's degree programs in occupational health nursing cover much of the same topics as certificate programs, but explore research practices in greater depth. Programs usually require two years of full-time study to complete, and qualify graduates for certification through the ABOHN or to continue their studies in a doctoral degree program. A bachelor's degree in nursing is required for entrance into master's degree programs in this field. Some schools offer extended 3-year tracks to students who have bachelor's degrees in areas outside of nursing. Programs cover occupational health topics as well as research skills and advanced practice nursing topics. Some master's programs require a thesis.

Doctoral Programs in Occupational Health Nursing

At the doctorate level, occupational health nursing programs are aimed toward individuals interested in the theories and framework of this healthcare subset. Completion of such a program usually leads to academic, policy-oriented or research-centered careers. Graduates can earn a Doctor of Science in Occupational Health Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a concentration in OHN.

Most programs require students to be registered nurses who hold a bachelor's or master's degree in occupational health. Prior research experience may be helpful; admissions will also typically depend on previous academic aptitude as reflected through GPA and GRE scores. Students often pursue an area of interest during their doctoral studies, which is reflected in a dissertation or research project.

Experienced RNs can direct their careers toward occupational health nursing by completing a graduate program that provides specific training in the field.

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