Occupational health nursing training at UMSN expands to doctor of nursing practice

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The University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) has recently been approved to offer doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) studies for occupational health nurses.

The occupational health nursing concentration is part of the University of Michigan’s Center for Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (COHSE), and offers tuition support funded by the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH is an institute of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The University of Michigan was one of the first NIOSH-sponsored education and research centers, and UMSN has been training occupational health nurses at the master’s level ever since. Beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, UMSN will offer occupational health nursing training to post-baccalaureate and post-master’s DNP students. Funding from NIOSH will support DNP as well as MSN students.

Marjorie McCullagh, Ph.D., RN, APHN-BC, COHN-S, FAAOHN, FAAN, is professor at the School of Nursing and director of the occupational health nursing program. She sees a bright outlook for the professional placement of graduates.

“This program expansion comes at a very good time, because a recent national workforce assessment found a significant shortfall in the supply of specially-prepared occupational health nurses to meet current and future demand in the United States,” she said.

Occupational health nurses engage in public health nursing in workplaces and clinics in order to educate workers about workplace health and safety and to provide care for those injured in the workplace. Occupational health nurses are employed in a wide variety of settings, such as primary care offices and manufacturing and hospital-based employee health services. They likewise serve in a variety of roles, from clinician to educator to corporate director or consultant.

A number of current MSN students pursuing the occupational health nursing concentration have decided to continue their studies at the DNP level.

McCullagh is gratified to see the program expansion.

“It’s exciting. Our future DNP graduates will be prepared to respond to new challenges posed by the changing nature of work, and to serve the nation’s workforce as skilled, knowledgeable practitioners in occupational health and safety,” she said.