Survey results critical of training of occupational health nurses

Current Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) principles for the training of occupational health nurses do not adequately prepare them for practice, and do not meet the needs of the OH nurse workforce, a survey has concluded.

The research, carried out by Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing (FOHN) and publisher The At Work Partnership, is the second part of a “state of the nation” snapshot of the OH profession.

The first piece of research, which looked at whether or not OH nurses felt adequately supported and represented, was published last October (OH&W, November 2016).

The latest survey, of 1,429 nurses, has concluded that half described the content of their OH nursing course as “inadequate”, with only a quarter saying it was adequate.

Most OH nurses believed learning alongside other public health nurses – such as health visitors and school nurses as part of the NMC’s specialist community public health nurse (SCPHN) registration category – was not an ideal environment for preparing OH nurses for future practice.

The vast majority (81%) said a protected title, such as “Registered OHN” should be used for those who have completed an approved education programme.

FOHN development group chairman Jo Berriman said: “Ensuring the quality and consistency of OH nurse education must be at the heart of what we do to deliver effective clinical practice and to safeguard the public.

“As a profession, we need to better influence key stakeholders’ thinking in relation to OH nursing – what it is and what it can achieve.

“The combined findings from our survey give us an exciting opportunity to do this.

“The Faculty Development Group will champion this agenda in 2017 at the same time as continuing to build the organisation that will soon become our Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing.”

The FOHN report follows the publication in November by Public Health England of a blueprint for OH nurse education, Educating Occupational Health Nurses: an approach to align education with a service vision for occupational health nurses.

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