What do you do?

  1. 1
    there is a temp job open in my area for the summer for a occupational health nurse. i am (about to be) a new grad. the posting says that they do not require any experience. i have no clue what i would be doing, it reads "providing onsite health care and wellness promotion to employees". so my question is, what does a oc health nurse do???

    it says that it will be a great learning experience, and i'm eager to learn something new!

    thanks
    daisy
    eerose likes this.
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  3. 14 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Since no one else has replied...

    Back when I was actively working as a paramedic the nursing "department" at a local food processor would call up the ambulance service and hire out paramedics to fill nurse slots when all of their nurses were scheduled off or when they had someone quit (which was often).

    On my orientation the head nurse told me "we don't do **** but read magazines all day." Their supervisor was the personnel director.

    Anyway she went on to show me where they kept the imbuprofen, aspirin, anti-poop medicine, antacids, etc. She told me all they ever did was have workers come in off the line saying they were sick or injured so they could get sent home. Their chief role was then increasing productivity. Also, if there was an injury out in the plant they had to respond to it with their little bag until an ambulance came.

    I only worked out there once because I was bored out of my gourd, plus the place stunk and the employees that came in were all idiots clearly faking health problems to get sent home. I took blood pressures, pulses, and handed out pills all night. I did send one woman home with something like 220/150 blood pressure, but that was about it. Funny enough, I was even questioned about that, lol.
  5. 1
    Daisy,

    The experience the gentleman describes above is not typical in Occupational health nursing! I am sure many of the occupational health nurses on this board can vouch for that. If this is a temporary job only for the summer, perhaps, the company is closing or downsizing and having an onsite nurse available for emergencies may be required by policy. Does the company you will be working for have a job description and what did the last nurse do before you?

    I would surmise at the very least, you would be available for emergencies, first aide, and maybe to dispense OTC medications (although in some jurisdictions and states you are not allowed to dispense ANY medications, Is your job in Canada or the US?).

    Hope this helps. Good luck!
    mickylynn969 likes this.
  6. 3
    The occupational health nurses at the facility that "Im that guy" worked at did both their employer and their employees a huge disservice. It would correlate to a hospital nurse saying "all I do is give out pills" or "all I do is empty bedpans". Each one of those employees that were seen for blood pressure checks, pulses, and "pills" were opportunities to interact, help, and teach.

    Workplaces feature employees, and employees have all the normal non-work-related issues that regular people have. That means that whatever medical problems the employee has outside of work - cardiac, respiratory, neurological, etc. - the employee has out in the workplace. And since employees spend about 2/3 of their waking hours at work, the chances of an emergency increases.

    Occupational health nurses regularly affect the health and safety of employees. It is usually not a position that can be filled with a new grad, and you need to be very sure that you feel experienced enough to handle the position. Ask yourself what emergencies can occur in that facility, and what you would do in the event of an emergency. What is someone has a heart attack? Diabetic emergency? Seizure? Stroke? How about acute injuries... often nursing schools do not teach hands-on first aid? Do you know how to deal with an amputation? Crush injury? What kind of backup will you have, i.e. are there other nurses working with you? How long does it take the EMS to get there? 5-7 minutes alone with someone who is not breathing is a VERY long time!

    Not wanting to scare you off of Occ Health Nursing, but the advertisement for temporary help sounds like it was written by someone who has no idea what occupational health nurses may have to do. But I bet that same person will be the first to expect you to know what to do in an emergency!

    Hope this helps!
    mickylynn969, hkrn06, and Bubbles like this.
  7. 0
    Probably drawing blood of doing first aid stand-by at a chemical plant
  8. 1
    Quote from deb1ohn
    The occupational health nurses at the facility that "Im that guy" worked at did both their employer and their employees a huge disservice. It would correlate to a hospital nurse saying "all I do is give out pills" or "all I do is empty bedpans". Each one of those employees that were seen for blood pressure checks, pulses, and "pills" were opportunities to interact, help, and teach.

    Workplaces feature employees, and employees have all the normal non-work-related issues that regular people have. That means that whatever medical problems the employee has outside of work - cardiac, respiratory, neurological, etc. - the employee has out in the workplace. And since employees spend about 2/3 of their waking hours at work, the chances of an emergency increases.

    Occupational health nurses regularly affect the health and safety of employees. It is usually not a position that can be filled with a new grad, and you need to be very sure that you feel experienced enough to handle the position. Ask yourself what emergencies can occur in that facility, and what you would do in the event of an emergency. What is someone has a heart attack? Diabetic emergency? Seizure? Stroke? How about acute injuries... often nursing schools do not teach hands-on first aid? Do you know how to deal with an amputation? Crush injury? What kind of backup will you have, i.e. are there other nurses working with you? How long does it take the EMS to get there? 5-7 minutes alone with someone who is not breathing is a VERY long time!

    Not wanting to scare you off of Occ Health Nursing, but the advertisement for temporary help sounds like it was written by someone who has no idea what occupational health nurses may have to do. But I bet that same person will be the first to expect you to know what to do in an emergency!

    Hope this helps!
    Thank you for writing a professional description of what Occupational health nurses do. I wonder if 'Im that guy' is a nurse. I worked for agencies a two times in my career with the last time pretty much full time for a year. Most of that was at various Motorola plants, but also aerospace firms and furniture plants. Motorola was my favorite. A totally different world where their employees work in clean rooms in bunny suits with the possiblity of exposure to thousands of different chemicals. Yes, there were the headaches, stomach aches, and paper cuts that needed attention. There also were extremely stressed employees, chest pains, and miscarriages! You never know what the shift will bring but you have the opportunity to work with a variety of situations. If it is quiet there are most likely other things you can do to help out. I s found my years of ICU/CCU experence came in handy when true emergencies occurred.
    hkrn06 likes this.
  9. 1
    I currently work in occupational health and I am responsible for the following:

    Writing policies and procedures for my department
    Writing protocols for others in the department
    Designing systems for documentation and retention of employee health files
    Worker's compensation and OSHA log
    Assist with administration of FMLA and work comp
    Primary responsibility for temporary light duty and ADA accommodation programs
    Immunizations and TB testing
    First aid and triage of injured workers
    Education of staff and managers re: employee health topics (ie. bloodborne pathogens, FMLA, etc, etc).
    Absentee tracking, especially with regards to infectious diseases in conjunction with my role in infection control

    Also, many day to day tasks such as ordering medications and vaccines, attending trainings for state infectious disease reporting, immunization registry, serving as a liason to the health department, work comp company, contracted occupational health clinics and local ERs where our employees go for their pre-employment physicals and injury care.

    A lot of what I do is understanding both the clinical and legal aspects of a situation and making a good judgement with both in mind, as well as many administrative tasks such as policy writing, budgets, etc. I do not recommend this as a job for a new graduate because you really have to have a good nursing knowledge base, plus understand the legal aspects and be able to hold your ground in cases that can in rare circumstances become unpleasant (especially with regard to FMLA, short-term disability and work comp). You'll work very closely with the Human Resources department, so you'll also have to develop a good relationship with them. In some cases, you'll report to a human resources director who does not necessarily have a medical background.

    The rewarding aspects are working with employees, helping to better their health, putting forth new safety initiatives that really make a difference, and being able to work with a relatively well population during business hours (generally 8-5 Monday - Friday)
    hkrn06 likes this.
  10. 0
    ICRN's description is great. I'm thinking that since they want temporary help its more along the lines of blood draws. I am actually at work right now doing standby at a chemical plant turnaround (GREAT $$$!). I just pull a day or so a week when I can on my days off. The duties of a full time occ med nurse are many. There is a good demand also. It is a fairly new field with not many experienced people in it. Occupational medicine pays well, but it is a different animal than is regular nursing. I don't like having OSHA regulations hanging over my head. I treat all these first aid patients just like I would at my full time job (urgent care) but sometimes there is a conflict of interest. Certain treatments you provide make the incident "recordable" and show up as a mark on the employee's company's reputation for getting future contracts, etc. On one hand you have the company's safety representative pulling you in one direction when your training tells you to just treat the patient. Experienced occ med nurses probably dont have this problem. I have just been doing it here and there for a couple years. I do ok but I just dont like that feeling of wondering if I did too much for the patient that maybe I didn't need to do.
  11. 0
    Hmmm....that's sort of like saying: "I'm going on a trip, what shall I bring?" Are you going across town? Or perhaps Thailand, or Nepal, or maybe Alaska? I'm not trying to be mean here, but the question is nebulous because you haven't given us a clue as to how big the place is, and what they do.
    >
    I've held 3 Occ RN positions and about a dozen part-time ones. At a paper mill I responded to things like 5 workers exposed to poison gas. At a major gun factory my biggest issue was sound issues in firing ranges, lacerations due to machinery, and safety consulting. At a 700 person hi-tech factory my biggest issues were annual mammograms (setting up a program); vision checks (we used a lot of lasers) entrance physicals; workers' comp, and headaches. At GM my biggest issue was splinters, lots and lots of splinters, believe it or not. But at many of the small jobs I had my biggest issues were anxiety, support for unexpected pregnancies; fixing boo boos, and at some, where permitted, doing CEU work on the computer.
    >
    My advice is that if you are interested in Occ Med, grab it! If no experience is needed, all you might have to do is "be there." And you can become pro-active, go sit in the cafeteria once a week over in the corner and in a bit of privacy do BP checks. That will start a chain reaction and people will come to you about everything and anything. If your place of work has motorized vehicles, machinery and situations where you could run into trauma--enroll in a local EMT class. Audiometry is not always required, if it is, let your company send you to become COHC (Cert. Occ. Hearing Conservationist), if they want you to do spirometry, let them send you to school for it. You may not even have to do much regarding Workers' Comp. At some places you will be expected to be the person who contacts the state and runs the program, if so, learn, the state can give you what you need. The hardest thing in Occ Med is getting experience. Becoming COHN used to require 2000 hours of experience, now they have reduced it to 1000. Look into AAOHN, get their books and read them, and then eventually become COHN by taking the exam. Then you are (were) golden. ("were" because industry has been so badly hit in this economy)
    >
    Remember, the worst that can probably happen in a place where "no experience is required" is a person comes in, sweaty, clutching their chest, having difficulty breathing--in that case, you know CPR already, you call 911, or security, get your AED, lay the person down and try to keep them calm. Every nurse is faced with that scenario. Practice that scenario (in your mind, or play-act) weekly. If you need to use the AED, heck, they're dead already--all you can do is help. Also practice using an epi-pen, and make sure that is the one thing that they have on hand! (besides the AED)
    >
    *lol* In my first job I had a fellow that had been stung by a bee--no prior allergies. But he started looking not so good, I called my boss on the phone and started to say: "How do I know when to give someone epi..." and then "added, forget it, call you back." It became obvious real fast--and it was nice that I had play-acted that scene because all I had was a vial of epi. It was remarkable at how fast that epi worked! (yes I 911'd him also).
    Last edit by 42pines on Apr 19, '11
  12. 0
    This has resulted in a very good discussion. Agree with all the posters above except the paramedic who worked someplace handing out bandaids and ibuprofen. I have had a wide range of experience in the Occ Health world, and as pointed out before, it really depends on the type of company and type of facility that you work for. My guess is if it is a summer time job only, it may be a "peak season" type job for their company. For instance, I have seen jobs posted only for 8 weeks to serve migrant farm workers in the field while they pick--whatever. Or it could be to fill a shift for a nurse that is on maternity leave. I agree with the above poster that said "Go for it!", although with the caveat, be absolutely sure that you feel confident in your skills enough to respond to critical situations; i.e. seizures, chest pain, allergic reactions. It will be interesting for you, but I will say, there are many experienced nurses out there looking for work, so you may have some pretty tough competition. Personally, I feel the very best way to find out what a particular type of nurse does, is to survey job ads. Go to indeed.com or careerbuilder and type in "occupational health nurse" in your search. Be sure to use the quotation marks, or you will be weeding through lots of occupational therapist job openings. It never hurts to apply for anything. Best of luck in your job searches.


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