Reinventing Oneself—Sustaining Employability Jane Christianson, RN, PhD Acquiring additional education and certifications can transform occupational health nurses into leaders who can enhance the workplace. [Workplace Health Saf 2014;62(10):440.]


ince the 1880s, occupational health nurses have provided worksite health and safety services. According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (2014), the roles and functions of the occupational health nurse are: worker and workplace hazard detection, legal and regulatory compliance, health promotion and risk reduction, case management, counseling, and crisis intervention. Occupational health nurse educational background varies from that of other disciplines, such as medical assistant or health coach. The occupational health nurse’s value is often measured by cost-benefit analysis. According to Merriam-Webster. com (2014), to reinvent “is to make major changes or improvements.” The Health Resources and Services Administration (2013) revealed 52% of occupational health nurses have an associate degree or diploma in nursing, 30% have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and only 18% have a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. The Institute of Medicine report (2010), “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” recommends increasing the proportion of bachelor of science in nursing-prepared registered nurses from the current 40% to 80% by 2020. Occupational health nurses lag ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Christianson, RN, PhD, is Assistant Professor and Deputy Director, Occupational Health Program, University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing, Cincinnati, Ohio. The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise. Correspondence: Jane Christianson, RN, PhD, Occupational Health Program, University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing, P.O. Box 210038, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0038. E-mail: [email protected] doi:10.3928/21650799-20140918-02


behind the general nursing workforce by 10%, increasing the vulnerability of the profession. A bachelor’s degree would elevate occupational health nurses’ professional status and knowledge base. To reduce the financial burden of education, occupational health nurses could tap into the educational assistance often provided by employers. Additional higher education provides opportunities to develop expertise in areas of leadership, finance, health care policy, ergonomics, toxicology, research, and statistics. With additional knowledge, occupational health nurses can provide practice improvements, seek promotion and leadership opportunities, and provide higher level analysis of occupational work and health promotion. Using principles of cost-benefit analysis, occupational health nurses can measure health promotion outcomes such as participation, satisfaction, behavior and biometric changes, workplace productivity, and health care claims. Positive results should result in cost savings. If health promotion is not cost-effective or used, occupational health nurses should determine other programs that produce positive outcomes. Organizations value occupational health nurses’ expertise and the cost-savings their programs can generate. Rapid change is disruptive; however, occupational health nurses can implement small changes that benefit the organization. The nursing process from the 1950s is as relevant today as when Orlando developed the Theory of the Nursing Process Discipline (Stitch University, 2014). Occupational health nurses use injury analysis, surveys, focus groups, logs, near misses, and health and safety reports

determining areas of concerns. Occupational health nurses’ analyses should be reviewed by organizations’ key stakeholders; a plan should be developed, implemented, and evaluated for effectiveness and cost savings. Necessary changes and process changes could be implemented. Transformational occupational health nurses continuously reinvent themselves, acquiring additional education and using tools such as return on investment and the nursing process to address workplace health and safety needs. The degree required of entry level occupational health nurses should be the bachelor of science in nursing. The benefit of additional education and knowledge will transform occupational health nurses into leaders who can enhance the workplace with value-added influences of theories, financial and statistical analysis, legal and regulatory compliance, and health care policies. REFERENCES

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses. (2014). Profession of occupational environmental health. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from standards.html Health Resources and Services Administration. (2013, April). The U.S. nursing workforce: Trends in supply and education. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved July 28, 2014, from Institute of Medicine. (2014). The future of nursing: Leading change advancing health. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from Merriam-Webster. (2014). Reinvent. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from Stitch University. (2014). Ida Jean Orlando - Theory of nursing process discipline. Retrieved July 28, 2014, from Library/Doing-Research/Research-by-Subject/Health-Sciences-Nursing-Theorists/IdaJean-Orlando---Theory-of-Nursing-ProcessDiscipline/

Copyright © American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. Downloaded from at The University of Iowa Libraries on July 28, 2015

Reinventing oneself--sustaining employability.

Acquiring additional education and certifications can transform occupational health nurses into leaders who can enhance the workplace...
73KB Sizes 1 Downloads 5 Views