It’s my first day on the job as an occupational health nurse at one of the largest automobile factories in America. The Tesla Fremont factory encloses 5.5 million square feet and has around 15,000 workers on site at any one time. At the moment I’m hired, the factory is in overdrive to meet quotas and workers are pulling five twelve-hour shifts per week.

Fast Facts about Occupational Health

  • Occupational health nurses work in a variety of settings to keep workers healthy and safe.
  • The typical occupational health nurse would be baccalaureate prepared and may have an advanced degree.
  • This nurse might enter the field with experience in community health, emergency room, critical care, or ambulatory medicine.
  • The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. offers the following certifications for this specialty of nursing: Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) and Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S).
  • The professional organization is the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses.
  • There are certifications available for ADN-prepared nurses, BSN-prepared nurses, and advanced practice nurses wishing to enter the field.

closely with EMTs, Physician Assistants, LVNs, and ancillary personnel working to keep the clinic running. The EMTs are trained to respond to workplace incidents on the factory floor. They are ready at a moment’s notice to respond to medical emergencies in the vast reaches of the factory. Typical responses I’ve seen so far are falls, cuts, and even a heart attack. They respond with a shoulder carried first aid pack, oxygen, and an AED.

Medical care beyond first aid is provided by physician assistants on site or through a video conferencing system. The range of services is pretty broad. Management of repetitive motion injuries, evaluation and treatment of traumatic injuries, and referrals for non-occupational conditions are typical. The clinic is well stocked with equipment and supplies, an EKG machine, nebulizer machines, various notions and potions for symptomatic relief of sprains, headaches, and bruises. The goal is to keep the factory moving with healthy workers.

Each day is a new and interesting experience. My nursing skills are being used productively and I’m learning about this expanding and well-paying field of nursing.

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