Occupational Health Nursing Jobs in the Private Sector & NHS
Read more about Occupational Health Nurses and the job opportunities available whether in the public sector, large corporate organisation or educational institution.
24th March 2011
Occupational health nursing is a specialism in its own right, and can have as many career opportunities as any other part of nursing. An Occupational Health Nurse is concerned with health promotion and managing wellbeing, which can involve ensuring healthy working practices, providing basic healthcare screening services and ensuring the wellbeing of employees.
If you’re interested in learning how to provide treatments and activities that help people to recover or overcome a difficulty they have, then occupational therapy might be more suitable than occupational health nursing. Occupational therapists assess both physical and psychiatric conditions and design specific activities to promote independent living and recovery. You can become an occupational therapist by going to university and completing a course in occupational therapy in order to register with the Health Professionals Council as a qualified practitioner. You can find out more about occupational therapy vs occupational health nursing in our previous article.
Working as an Occupational Health Nurse
Occupational health nursing is a career path that’s open to anyone who is a qualified nurse, but is particularly suited to adult or mental health qualified nurses. A qualified nurse can apply for an occupational health nursing job as a newly qualified or experienced professional, there are jobs to suit all levels of experience.
There is the opportunity to work full or part time depending on the post you apply for, and also on a fixed term contract if you like to move around regularly. Occupational health may be the ideal career move for you if you want to continue in nursing, but no longer wish to work varying shifts. Most occupational health departments work office hours with occasional work outside these hours, but don’t require shift work on a regular basis. Your working routine may vary according to the amount of travel required and the hours you are contracted for, but this role will provide you with as much variation as any other role in nursing.
In the majority of occupational health roles, part of your responsibility will be looking after the health and wellbeing of employees while they are at work. You will undertake workplace risk assessments, healthy living initiatives and administer essential healthcare screening and inoculations. This can include staff working within the NHS so you will gain experience and understanding of the working routines of many other parts of the healthcare service.
Public sector vs Private Sector Occupational Health Nursing Jobs
Whether you decide to work in public or private sector, the role of occupational health nurse is very similar. The main difference is likely to be in the package and salary offered. While the NHS will pay according to the agenda for change pay scales, a private sector organisation is free to set salary levels at whatever level it chooses, so you could find yourself better or worse off according to the employer and the job.
It’s common that occupational health departments are run by either a manager or a sister who has overall responsibility for the work load and oversees the nurses within the team. Occupational health nursing encompasses a wide variety of activities, but these could include administering vaccinations, promoting health eating or running a stop smoking clinic.
If you do decide to work in the NHS, it’s likely you will be able to gain practical experience within the private sector because NHS occupational health departments often contract with external organisations to provide occupational health services. You could be expected to travel within your region to visit these clients, so you can expect to work in a variety of different places and organisations.
Career opportunities for experienced Occupational Health Nurses
Progressing a career in occupational health can be very rewarding, and can lead to a managerial position or a specialist occupational health role. Even as a nurse manager, an occupational health nurse is still required to maintain their NMC pin number and to work according to the code of conduct at all times.
A nurse manager role in the NHS could be as senior as band 7, which starts at a minimum of £30,460. A nursing manager’s role could involve overseeing a team of junior occupational health nurses with the responsibility for looking after the health and wellbeing of a large number of healthcare staff within the local healthcare trust. You could be involved in staff welfare promotion, working environment risk assessments and running healthy eating programmes.
Senior occupational health nursing roles in the private sector often involve similar responsibilities, although the variety of organisations can offer different opportunities. You could work for a large corporate company that employs a detailed occupational health promotion programme, or an education institution promoting the wellbeing of students and lectures. Salaries in the private sector can vary, but there is often some similarity with the NHS agenda for change pay scales.
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