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Is occupational health nursing the job for you?

Published on: 26 Jul 2023

Is an occupational health nurse the job for you? Find out more about this nursing job and if this role is the right career choice for you

The role requires empathy and excellent listening and communication skills – and in return can offer autonomy and the chance to work for yourself.

Occupational health nursing

Occupational health (OH) nurses provide evidence-informed, risk-based advice to support organisations and their workers to live well, perform well, heal if ill or injured, and continue into retirement in the best health possible.

OH nurses are employed in a wide variety of workplaces, including construction, retail, oil and gas, the emergency services, the NHS, and the armed forces. 

Many others work for large OH service providers that work with employers to provide care, and many nurses set up their own independent enterprises as practitioners for small to medium-sized businesses.

OH nurses can provide independent advice about staff who are unable to work because of intermittent health problems, and assess their fitness to work. They may also carry out pre-employment or pre-placement health assessments, develop health and well-being strategies and policies, and provide health advice to employees and organisations to help reduce sickness absence.

OH nurses need excellent written and verbal communication skills, good clinical assessment skills and the ability to work autonomously, but also know the limits of their practice and when they should refer on.

‘OH nurses need to be able to work with individuals, managers and others, giving impartial advice based on clear evidence,’ says Professor Anne Harriss, an OH nurse and consultant workplace health strategist. ‘Creative problem-solving skills are also very useful.’

Pay varies as OH nurses have a wide range of potential employers, or may be self-employed. Some will work for the NHS and will be on Agenda for Change pay scales, while others work in the private sector.

OH nurses who run their own companies have more control and flexibility over their working hours, which can be good for work-life balance.

This is an abridged version of the article Occupational health nursing: could it be the role for me? which was first published in Nursing Standard. Read the full article to learn more about what the role involves and how to decide if this might be the job for you. 

Read more careers articles on Nursing Standard