Occupational health (OH) is a rewarding and interesting career and one that allows a good work/life balance. Whatever your background or interests, there is a career in occupational health that's perfect for you! Take a look at courses available in our careers guide and see the National School of Occupational Health website here.
A recording of the 2021 Jobs and Career Fair is here. Presentation slides from previous events are here and here and you can view a free webinar on careers in OH here. Being a member of the SOM supports your career development e.g. support for placements and mentoring, workplace visits, support groups for AHPs, nurses (see a recent recording here), CESR and DOcc Med doctors and revision sessions - contact us for details. The OH world is friendly and there are more people than you think out there who are willing to help and support you. If you are a nurse, sign up to our OH Nurse Connect bulletin or a GP with an interest in OH, sign up to our OH GP Connect bulletin.
Career Paths In Occupational Health
Doctors, psychologists, occupational therapists, technicians, nurses, hygienists, disability assessors and physiotherapists all play important roles. Find out more by clicking on a block that reflects your professional group.
The functional assessor profession focuses on transferring your occupational health skills and applying them to establishing a person’s functional capabilities and limitations secondary to their medical conditions, rather than focusing on diagnosis. It involves meeting with people with disabilities in a non-clinical environment, establishing the impact of their disabilities on their day-to-day life and preparing detailed clinical reports.
This is a vital role in the UK healthcare system and is all about helping applicants get support and move forward with their lives, not about determining if they are fit for work.
More information about what the role entails and testimonies can be found here, and see video here.
The occupational health nursing profession focuses on the prevention and management of workplace injuries. Occupational health nursing is a rewarding and diverse career. All registered nurses can apply for occupational health nursing roles. There are occupational health nurse jobs available in both the private sector and the NHS. More information about becoming an occupational health nurse can be found here and here. Guidance for employing an OH nurse is here, careers in OH nursing is here and the FOHN Career Framework is here. Listen to a SOM Podcast on OH nursing here.
Occupational hygienists, also known as industrial hygienists, are skilled in worker protection (occupational hygiene). They are involved at the interface of people and their workplaces, and help employers understand how health hazzards affect the health of workers, what the level of risk may be, and advise on reducing risks through the identification of suitable controls. Find out more here.
The role of an occupational health physician is often determined by the requirements of the employer or customer. Occupational health doctors are concerned with the protection of the health of the workforce and the prevention of occupational diseases and related environmental issues. More information about the role of doctors in occupational medicine can be found here. Dr Iain Kennedy explains in this blog the importance of occupational medicine in his work as a GP. Dr Rob Hampton describes why there is an increasing interest in the specialty being seen as an attractive and sometimes lucrative field of work. Dr Peter Tamony, a junior doctor, shares his experience of a taster week of training in occupational health during his final year as a medical student. A podcast on "Why I Became an Occupational Physician and Other Occupational Health Stories" edited by John Hobson and SOM is available here (the book can be purchased here with a discount for SOM members - discount code in Members Area).
Occupational physiotherapy aims to improve the health and wellbeing of workers so that they can carry out their jobs effectively and efficiently. Occupational health physiotherapists improve work design through ergonomics, with the goal of making work tasks comfortable and safe. Find out more here.
Occupational psychology focuses on performance at work. It looks at how individuals, small groups and organisations behave and function. The aim of occupational psychology is to increase an organisation's effectiveness and improve the job satisfaction of workers. Occupational psychologists can work in advisory, teaching and research roles. They can also work in technical and administrative roles. Find out more here.
An occupational health technician (OHT) is a key part of a multi-disciplinary OH team. The OHT must provide accurate written, electronic and verbal reports, observing confidentiality always. The role may involve blood pressure monitoring, phlebotomy, cholesterol and urine testing. It often involves working on one's own initiative and may include site visits and considerable travel. Find out more here.
Occupational therapists working in occupational health assist in the provision of an OH service to meet employees' needs. They provide professional services and advice to management and employees on matters relating to OH, particularly prevention of illness and maintenance and improvement of health and wellbeing. Find out more here and here.
Click on the blocks below to read the real-life experiences of professionals working in occupational health.