OH needs to look at the wider picture

One of the most fascinating – albeit challenging – aspects of OH is that practitioners must span both the worlds of work and of health.

Although most OH people would argue they are first and foremost nurses, the vast majority do not work within a healthcare environment and have little or no contact with other nurses. Once you move from a healthcare setting into an OH role, you are more likely to work alongside colleagues without a healthcare background, such as HR, safety and general line management, or with other healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists and OH physicians.

Keeping in touch with the nursing element of the job is important, but so too is engaging with this wider multidisciplinary team.

This was the clear message from Gail Cotton in her Ruth Alston Memorial Lecture address to the Association Of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners,  where she challenged OH practitioners to come out of isolation and work with other relevant professionals to deliver the best possible service.

During the AOHNP symposium, which took place the day after the lecture, the benefits of partnership working continued as a major theme, with speakers – including health and safety experts, physiotherapists, and fellow OHNs – all encouraging delegates to embrace partnership working to further their practice. As Occupational Health’s consulting editor, Greta Thornbory summed up so eloquently at the end of the day, OH must ensure it involves all the stakeholders to make a positive contribution to workplace health.

If you also want to find out what’s happening within the wider nursing profession, Kev O’Connor reports from the RCN annual congress on the issues stimulating debate among the nursing profession as a whole.

Sara Bean, editor, OH.Editor@rbi.co.uk

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