Back to top

SOM welcomes its first nurse President

Posted by Ann Caluori | Wed, 24/06/2020 - 15:20


The Society of Occupational Medicine today welcomed its first nurse President, Professor Anne Harriss.


Professor Anne Harriss succeeds Dr Will Ponsonby as President at the SOM AGM, today. This follows a year as President Elect. Professor Harriss is the first non-physician and first nurse to serve as SOM President.


Professor Anne Harriss said: “A focus of my role will be ensuring that Government and business understand the role of occupational health and asking for universal access to it. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance to the economy and public health of effectively supporting workplace health.”


SOM CEO Nick Pahl said: “There is a strong economic case to implement access to occupational health for all employers. Occupational health services are key in supporting employees back to work and keeping them in work safely during these challenging times. Anne brings a wealth of experience to highlight the vital role occupational health plays.”


Professor Harriss trained as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital London and then at the Royal College of Nursing. Professor Harriss completed an MSc in Occupational Health at the University of Surrey. With varied practice experience, including working for a major chain of hotels, oil and gas industry, the pharmaceutical industry and her own consultancy, a significant part of Professor Harriss’ career has been spent in education.


Passionate in ensuring that education is fit for both purpose and practice, Professor Harriss has been course director for occupational health (OH) nursing programmes at the Royal College of Nursing and London South Bank University, where she was course director for programmes in both OH nursing and OH health and safety.


Professor Harriss was awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing and Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2014, Professor Harriss became the first person in the Faculty of Health at London South Bank University to become a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.


In addition to her “day job”, Professor Harriss has been involved for over 18 years in developing, leading and delivering pro-bono public health projects in rural South Africa, and over the last two years has undertaken projects with the New Zealand Association of Occupational Health Nurses.


During the COVID-19 crisis, Professor Harriss has delivered SOM webinars, some in association with organisations such as Acas, CIPD and Mind, and has helped to develop the SOM Return to Work toolkits, which have been designed to help managers and occupational health professionals get workers back to work safely post-lockdown.


Full press release available here.