professional development

Welcome to Occupational Health

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There has never been a better time to become an Occupational Health practitioner.  The Council for Work and Health have published a report outlining the shortage of Occupational Health specialists.  Read more here.  As an independent Specialist Practitioner and a Director of the AOHNP , I look forward to welcoming and supporting nurses and technicians joining our team.

If you are new to OH,

  • look out for the professional development programme that I am developing for the NHS NPAG which will start again in September 2016;
  • please consider joining the AOHNP as a student or associate member to develop your skills and your career.

Coaching in OH to reduce compassion fatigue.

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I don’t usually use the word “should”, due to its negative connotations and the implication that something didn’t happen.  However, my thought for today is whether OH professional training should include a coaching qualification.

A report in today’s Guardian argues that coaching support for professionals would improve retention in the difficult-to-recruit sectors, such as social care.  This sector is particularly vulnerable to mental health symptoms consistent with compassion fatigue. Proactive health assessment may identify employees with potential vulnerability to compassion fatigue, e.g. personality attributes, who would benefit from coaching and mentoring as part of supervision or personal development planning.

Professional coaches known to me include  Sally Anne AireyAthena Professional and Kelly Moller.

Your opportunity to influence training offers

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Hot off the press:

I am so excited to have been invited to work with NPAG, to develop new training and development modules for their OH programme.  I have so many ideas, I don’t know where to begin!

Immediate ideas (on top of the existing programme) are:

  • Health surveillance – philosophy and practice 
  • Fitness for work
  • Performance management
  • Clinical governance and audit

If your organisation has a training requirement not covered by the current programme, NPAG would like to hear from you – we thrive on developing new ideas with our clients.  We can assist in delivering a product that is suited to your needs and requirements. Our involvement can be decided by you. Our team has a wealth of experience designing courses, workshops and seminars for clients.

Contact NPAG today and find out how we can help you.

Current NPAG programme of professional development for OH nurses:

  • Employment Health Screening
  • Spirometry
  • Audiometry
  • Management of Physical Hazards
  • Sickness Absence Management Referrals
  • Health & Safety

Clinical Professional Development for Nurses working in Occupational Health

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This year I joined the NHS National Performance Advisory Group as an Associate; and on Thursday I delivered my first training module to RGNs, Assistant Practitioners and Technicians working in Occupational Health.

Clinical Professional Development for Occupational Health Nurses modules offer AOHNP members a 10% discount.

The first two modules I have delivered were Employment Health Assessment and Assessment and Case management in COSHH health surveillance.

Learning outcomes for this course are as follows:

  • Legal & ethical framework
  • Medical fitness standards
  • Safety critical work
  • Vaccination, immunisation and exposure prone procedures
  • Reasonable adjustments and the reasonably practicable test
  • Assessment and evaluation of functional capacity
  • Case Management Advising employers

Listed below are some interesting questions from delegates on arrival.  One of the key factors to note is the number of staff who are not RGN qualified, but who are carrying out employment health screening within the NHS.

Specific questions (and answers) about OH practice

  1. Occupational Health over-ruling a sick note – when can this be enforced?
    • New guidance on the fit note published by the Government in March 2013 and could allow an employer to give precedence to the views of an occupational health practitioner over those of a GP.
    • In the guidance for employers and line managers, under the headline “Is the fit note binding on me?”, the Government has made it clear that the answer is “no”.
  2. As New OH staff, what are my expectations?
    • Work within your level of competence.  Best practice is to follow the NMC code of conduct, even if you have not yet completed your RN training.  “6.1 make sure that any information or advice given is evidence-based, including information relating to using any healthcare products or services, and 6.2 maintain the knowledge and skills you need for safe and effective practice.”
  3. What are outcomes of fitness for work?
    • Fit for the role as described, no adjustments or adaptations required
    • Fit with adjustments or adaptations (description required)
    • Fit with individual risk assessments to identify safe working practices (stress, manual handling, DSE, etc.)
    • Unfit (usually only confirmed by an Occupational Physician)

Comments about experiences in OH

  1. Views on untrained staff advising Fit for work – on Health Conditions
  2. In’s and out’s of referrals – incorporated in training
  3. We’re always at the end of list for meetings – coming soon blog on raising the profile of Occupational Health
  4. Progress within OH? – coming soon blog on professional development
  5. How to convince staff that OH is not a punishment

Specific skills

  1. What is needed before we give clearance? – incorporated in training
  2. Immunisations and vaccinations – incorporated in training
  3. Better knowledge of legislation / Acts – incorporated in training
  4. Best Universities to do OH degree?
    • 26 SCPHN courses are identified on the NMC website.  Some courses require additional placement and training for Occupational Health, such as workplace health surveillance and therefore you are strongly advised to contact individual institutions before registering on a course; to confirm that their course offers specialist modules meeting the specific requirements of OH in practice.
    • Exciting developments are happening in the field of Occupational Health.  A new Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing has been formed and the School of Occupational Health promises to bring specialist multidisciplinary training to the profession soon.
    • Further information from fellow OH professionals can be found by joining the AOHNP, or following the

For more information about training and development days for OH nurses and technicians, check out the NPAG:

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