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Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing

Alumni Profiles

 

 

Maura BoeschMaura Boesch, DNP, MPH, RN

Clinical Assistant Professor
College of Nursing and Health
Wright State University

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OEHN program?

My educational background includes a BA in nursing and a BA in psychology. I have 20 years of nursing experience. From 2000 through 2004 I was employed in manufacturing as an Occupational Health Nurse. During my third year of employment I became certified as COHN-S/CM. I began graduate work in the summer Public Health Institute and enrolled in an occupational medicine class. This led to more course work and application to the program.

What got you interested in the field of occupational & environmental health nursing?

I worked in the manufacturing environment for four years and received certification as COHN-S. I wanted to continue with my education and subsequently completed my MPH, MSN, and DNP. I know that I have expanded the thought processes of faculty and students in the nursing department by instituting specific environmental and occupational health lectures, and rotations to manufacturing sites.

Describe your most recent job. What do you do? What is a typical day like?

I teach Public Health Nursing & Population Health at the 4 year traditional BSN level and at the Master's level. I coordinate the entire Public Health Nursing piece for the traditional BSN level. The students are in their final year and I arrange lecture, exams, and clinical rotations for 80 – 100 students. This entails rotations throughout Ohio including a rotation to an Occupational Health site (Honda manufacturing plant, GE Aviation manufacturing, Dyson Tools – precision tool manufacturing). Other sites are homeless shelters, health fairs, school screenings, free clinics, literacy centers, community mental health sites, and even volunteering for the fall, 2014 Air Force Marathon.

What is/was the most important part of your job?

I consider educating students about the relevance of public health and the increasing importance of primary prevention as the most important part of my job. I stress occupational and environmental health and safety because many undergraduate (and graduate) students simply do not recognize this as an important piece of nursing.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy teaching, learning, and giving students the big picture of population health. Most nursing programs focus on acute care and the individual patient. I get to shake up that framework and shift the thought process to populations. Students in the field get to apply concepts from lecture and look at hazards/risks to population health in a variety of settings.

What did/do you like least about your job?

The hours are overwhelming and I do not have time to initiate research. I am participating on several research projects.

Where do you see yourself contributing in the future to this field?

I would like to expand this level of instruction throughout the nursing programs here, including the DNP level. I want to establish a more focused course in Occupational & Environmental Health Nursing when the opportunity is presented.

What did you gain from your University of Minnesota education experience?

My education at the University of Minnesota has been invaluable. My MPH has allowed me to broaden the education of nursing students and faculty. This is essential especially considering the changes in global health dynamics. I have the skills to translate the current events of Ebola into the classroom as a result of the coursework from my MPH. Additionally, I have the skills to discuss environmental issues, policy, climate change, and disasters, and foster awareness that will hopefully translate to practice.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field?

Education is life-long and the opportunities are significant for those who have a passion to change global health. The impact of global and environmental health on populations cannot be understated. You have the chance to make a difference no matter your location or job choice. Your education is one of the most important tools to accomplish the changes you desire.

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Lucy CarlsonLucy F. Carlson - RN, MPH-MS, COHN-S, CCM

Occupational Health Specialist
3M Medical Department
3M Center, St. Paul, MN

Describe your most recent job—what do you do? What is a typical day like?

My job includes a variety of roles. I provide consultation, training and support to U.S. locations and global locations with a focus in Asia Pacific region. My responsibilities include services to occupational health nurses, Human Resources, Environmental Health Sciences and management to enhance health management strategies and facilitate compliance with local and national regulations and 3M global health and safety standards. In addition, I am a subject matter expert for return to work and disability case management programs, U.S. drug and alcohol testing programs and health services management metrics reporting.

What is/was the most important part of your job?

I believe the most important part of my job is relationship building.

What do you like best about your job?

There are many things I like about my job. One of my favorite parts is working with global colleagues and assisting them in their professional development.

What did/do you like least about your job?

It can be challenging to find the time to get everything done and completed in the best way possible.

What got you interested in the field of occupational & environmental health nursing?

I became interested in the field of OEHN during a Public Health Nursing class presentation by Deb Olson.

Where do you see yourself contributing in the future to this field?

I hope to continue to work with my global colleagues.

What did you gain from your University of Minnesota education experience?

My educational experience at the U of MN opened my mind to topics, ideas and ways of thinking that I never knew existed. And it brought me to the field of occupational and environmental health nursing which I find amazingly interesting, even after working 20 years in the field.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field?

Network whenever possible.

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maggieKari Cline, MPH

Employee Health Nurse, North Memorial Healthcare
Occupational Health and Wellness Program
Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)

What is your current/most recent job title?

I have been working as an employee health nurse at North Memorial Healthcare for 10 years and have recently been hired to manage Hennepin County Medical Center's Employee Occupational Health and Wellness program. Both organizations are large, urban, level one trauma centers.

Describe your most recent job—what do you do? What is a typical day like?

Healthcare organizations utilize employee health nurses to manage a wide range of health and wellness programs for their diverse worker population. Some of the work I've done in healthcare includes: pre-placement examinations, work injury/illness assessment and case management, accident investigation, ill worker triage, wellness coaching, medical leave management, return to work assessment, vaccination promotion and administration, post infectious disease exposure investigations, respirator fit testing, TB screening, health promotion activities and fairs. Luckily, I've never done all of those on one day! A typical day as a staff employee health nurse is difficult to capture, but a typical week would involve about half of my time working with individual employees face to face, and the other half of my time would consist of telephone work, medical record/document review, and meetings.

What is/was the most important part of your job?

The most important part of my job is being a strong advocate for the employee's wellbeing. In healthcare, our "product" comes down to a human interaction between staff and patients. If a staff member does not feel safe, supported and healthy, that can certainly interfere with the care that is provided. Being a strong advocate for employee wellness is not only an ethical responsibility, it is truly a business need.

What do/did you like best about your job?

I really enjoy the diversity of the healthcare worker population. There are few industries that employ such a wide range of ages, cultures and educational backgrounds.

What did/ do you like least about your job?

I wish more time and money could be used for wellness and prevention. Many work related injuries, attendance issues and job performance are negatively impacted by employees in difficult social situations, untreated mental health conditions, and poor general physical conditioning. Employers cannot control all of these factors, but it certainly would be more rewarding to work on those determinants rather than deal with them after they become problematic.

What got you interested in the field of occupational & environmental health nursing?

I was lucky to have many great role models and mentors along my career path. I hadn't started down the occupational health path intentionally, but passionate people in the occupational health field drew me in. The Twin Cities has an exceptional occupational health community and have always felt welcomed and encouraged. Even though occupational health nurses often have a high level of independence, I know I have many colleagues out there to support me.

What keeps me going is the reward of seeing the results of my interventions. I have had the opportunity to see lives transformed by great workplace wellness, safety and health initiatives. When you have the same 'patients' for years, it's a great opportunity to work on change over time. It allows you to develop relationships with the employee population that is very rich.

Where do you see yourself contributing in the future in this field?

Since others so positively affected me in the occupational health field, I would like to do the same for others. I hope I can share some of my energy for occupational health through mentorship. I am also interested in being involved in occupational health research.

What did you gain from your University of Minnesota educational experience?

As an experienced occupational health nurse entering the program, I was surprised to find that strengthening my foundational knowledge changed my practice. One simple example of this is how my understanding statistics and study design has allowed me to be a better consumer of published research. I now read more than just the abstract, and can judge the validity of the information presented.

The program also gave me a greater understanding of my public health colleagues. I collaborated with students in medicine, policy, industrial hygiene, research, injury prevention, administration and others. Sharing core classes with the larger public health group allowed me to gain a common ground with them, making communication and collaboration easier.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field?

Occupational and environmental nursing has many facets; find the one that fits you best. Working for an industry, clinic, insurance company, government agency or as a consultant offer different experiences for an occupational health nurse. If you try one on and it doesn't fit, take what you learned and apply it to a different setting.

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Maggie Stedman-SmithMaggie Stedman-Smith, PhD, MPH, MS, RN

Assistant Professor, Environmental Health
College of Public Health, Kent State University
Kent, Ohio

What got you interested in the field of occupational & environmental health nursing?

Before entering graduate school, my educational degrees included a BA in communications and an ADN in nursing, with several years of clinical experience in perinatal nursing working with women and families of diverse ethnicity. I was transitioning into population-based health care as a graduate student enrolled in the MS program at the University of Minnesota, School of Nursing with a focus in public health nursing. As a course requirement, I took "Issues in Environmental & Occupational Health" in the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, and developed a passion for this discipline and area of professional practice. As a result, I enrolled in the dual MS / MPH degree program, followed by the Ph.D. program in Environmental Health Sciences with a track in Environmental & Occupational Health Nursing. As a doctoral student under the academic advising of Dr. McGovern, I was able to draw upon my clinical experience through a community-based participatory research dissertation project; the project used an innovative methodology called "Photovoice" to assess the perceptions of mothers and grandmothers from three vulnerable groups concerning the potential for pesticide exposure to their children in the Minnesota Red River Basin of the North.

Describe your current job—what do you do?

Currently, I am employed as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at Kent State University, College of Public Health in Kent, Ohio. In this capacity I have developed and taught public health courses for students in the BSPH, MPH and Ph.D. academic programs that include: (1) Health Disparities (BSPH); (2) Introduction to Environmental Health Sciences (BSPH); (3) Occupational Health & Safety (MPH); (3) an experimental course, Health and the Built Environment (MS & Ph.D.); and (4) Qualitative Methods in Public Health Research (Ph.D.). In spring 2015, I will be adding to this course list, Emerging Issues in Environmental Health (MPH). Additionally, during the 2014-2015 academic year I have been charged with the responsibility of founding a Community Health Worker Certificate program for the College of Public Health. At Kent State I have established a research trajectory in occupational health promotion for reducing communicable infectious disease (acute respiratory tract infections, influenza, and gastrointestinal infections) among employees in the work environment. The work environment is an important location where healthy community members may be reached, since adults spend nearly half of their waking hours in this setting and often work in close proximity where pathogens associated with communicable illness may be spread. My research has included being a Principle Investigator for two pilot surveys that utilized a small convenience sample followed by a larger random sample survey, and a multimodal pilot randomized cluster trial. As such, I am actively engaged in the production and submission of manuscripts and peer review of articles and abstracts in environmental and occupational health.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the ability to discover and impart knowledge and meaning through the diverse activities of teaching students, conducting research, writing manuscripts, participating in peer review, engaging in program development, and acting as a committee member on academic committees. I appreciate the interconnectedness of all of these activities, since all inform and enrich each other to strengthen what I can give back to students and the community.

What do you like least about your job?

I enjoy the collegial atmosphere in the College of Public Health. I would like more scheduled events to spend with my colleagues to facilitate collective learning from our interdisciplinary research efforts.

What did you gain from your University of Minnesota education experience?

As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences I have gained a solid foundation from which to perform the responsibilities of my position. I am unique in my department since I bring a clinical prospective through my specialty in Environmental and Occupational Health Nursing. Other important preparations from my doctoral program that I utilize in my present position include knowledge in qualitative research and mixed methods, and in community-academic partnerships.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field?

There are many different specialties in environmental and occupational health for which the MPH and/or Ph.D. track in environmental and occupational health nursing will prepare you. Take the time to find an area that resonates with your individual purpose and talents. Be patient, and recognize that this may be a process that occurs over time.

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