Complete Guide to the Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner (OHNP) Specialty

Last Updated/Verified: Apr 29, 2024

Definition: What Is an Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner?

An Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner (OHN) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who specializes in promoting and maintaining the health and safety of individuals in the workplace. OHNPs play a critical role in preventing work-related injuries and illnesses, ensuring compliance with occupational health regulations, and providing comprehensive healthcare services to employees. They work collaboratively with employers, employees, and other healthcare professionals to create a healthy and safe work environment.

Scope of Practice

The scope of practice for occupational health nurse practitioners is wide-ranging and includes various aspects of workplace health and safety. An OHNP may fill roles such as:

  • Conducting assessments of employees’ health and fitness for specific job roles
  • Providing health screenings, administering vaccinations
  • Managing health surveillance programs to identify potential workplace health hazards
  • Offering education on injury prevention, ergonomic practices, and health promotion
  • Providing initial medical care and facilitating referrals for workers’ compensation cases

Skills & Abilities

Occupational health nurse practitioners possess a unique skill set tailored to the demands of workplace health and safety. They are proficient in assessing the physical and mental health of employees, conducting health risk assessments, and implementing measures to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. OHNPs work closely with employers to design health programs and policies that comply with regulatory requirements. Their knowledge of occupational health regulations, workers’ compensation procedures, and health promotion strategies is essential to their role.

Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner Certification & Subspecialties

To become a certified occupational health nurse practitioner, individuals typically need to complete a Master’s or Doctoral level nursing program with a focus on occupational health. While there isn’t a single national certifying body exclusively for occupational health nursing, nurse practitioners interested in this field can seek certifications related to occupational health and safety from organizations such as the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN).

Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN)Certified Occupational Health Nurse – Specialist (COHN-S)
OrganizationAmerican Board for Occupational Health NursesAmerican Board for Occupational Health Nurses
Cost$150 application fee
$400 exam fee
$150 application fee
$400 exam fee
Number of Questions160160
Eligibility RequirementsActive licensure as a registered nurse (RN), or an international equivalent; 3,000 hours of occupational health nursing practice (work experience) completed in the previous 5 years.Current Active RN License, 3000 hours in occupational health nursing in the past five years, and a Bachelor’s Degree

Subspecialties within occupational health nursing may include areas such as:

  • Environmental health
  • Workplace ergonomics
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Workers’ compensation advocacy

Becoming an Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner

Becoming an occupational health nurse practitioner involves a comprehensive educational journey. Aspiring OHNPs typically begin with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, gain experience as registered nurses, and then pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a focus on occupational health. Advanced programs provide specialized knowledge in workplace health regulations, risk assessments, and occupational health management. After completing their education, individuals can seek certification in relevant areas and state licensure as a nurse practitioner specializing in occupational health.

Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner Employment Opportunities

Occupational health nurse practitioners find employment opportunities in various settings where their expertise in workplace health and safety is valuable. These settings include corporate occupational health departments, manufacturing companies, construction companies, government agencies, healthcare institutions, and consulting firms. OHNs play an integral role in safeguarding the health of employees, preventing work-related injuries, and ensuring compliance with occupational health regulations.

Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner Salaries

Salaries for occupational health nurse practitioners can vary based on factors such as geographic location, years of experience, education level, and the specific industry or organization. As of 2023, the median annual wage for occupational health nurse practitioners was around $131,543. Given the specialized nature of occupational health nursing and the demand for their expertise in maintaining a healthy workforce, OHNPs may command competitive salaries.