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Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner: Job Description & Responsibilities

Occupational health nurse practitioners treat work-related injuries and educate employees on the benefits of a safe work environment. By encouraging employees to maintain good health and remain injury-free, they can help companies reduce worker absenteeism and increase productivity.

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Job Description for Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners

Occupational health nurse practitioners (OHNP) are also known as occupational and environmental health nurse practitioners or occupational health and family nurse practitioners. Their main focus is on the prevention and treatment of stress, injuries or illnesses derived from the work environment. They usually care for patients directly, working for medical facilities such as hospitals, doctor offices, or employee health clinics. They can also work as educators, researchers or consultants.

OHNPs are initially trained as registered nurses, meaning they hold a 4-year bachelor's degree, an associate degree or a diploma in nursing. However, in order to become a licensed nurse practitioner, OHNPs must also hold a master's degree in nursing and pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's NCLEX-PN examination.

Though not required, one certification option that could benefit entry-level OHNPs is the Family Nurse Practitioner certification offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. This professional credential verifies that the OHNP possess the education and skills needed to perform as a nurse practitioner.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a median annual salary of $92,670 for nurse practitioners in general in 2013. It also predicts that employment for nurse practitioners overall will increase 34% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average.

Responsibilities of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners

OHNPs are often instrumental in maintaining safe workplace conditions by educating workers on personal health issues and a company's safety policies. They often observe current business practices related to the handling of hazardous materials or maintaining health and safety standards. OHNPs make recommendations to employers that can make a workplace and its standard operating procedures safer for employees. Their specialized knowledge can lead to increased employee retention, as well as reduced worker's compensation claims.

In order to help employees maintain optimal health in their work environment, OHNPs should be familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and legislation that protects worker rights, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Additional patient care duties can include counseling for drug and alcohol addiction and offering wellness program options. OHNPs also dispense information on nutrition, vaccinations, exercise, weight loss and the dangers of smoking.

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