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Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing

 

Student Profiles


Jess DorfsmanJess Dorfsman, MPH Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing MPH program?

I worked as a nurse consultant and program manager in a pre-employment occupational health setting before enrolling in the program. I also had 2 years of nursing experience working in a hospital setting.

What interested you in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

My position as a nurse consultant was my first introduction to the field of occupational health. I appreciated the variety this field offers. I love being able to combine my health knowledge with the business world.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The program was recommended by a co-worker. I researched it online and met with the faculty. I quickly realized this was the right choice for me and a wonderful opportunity to attend a reputable school filled respected and driven faculty. The financial support the program received from NIOSH solidified my decision.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

I have worked full-time as a program manager for the pre-employment medical and fitness program for a federal law enforcement agency. The program's flexibility and the support my employer provided allowed me to complete my degree while maintaining my job.

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

I recently obtained a promotion, which in part was due to the work I have completed on my MPH. In this position I am able to implement the health and business knowledge gained from the program to help create a healthier and safer workforce for my organization.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from your internship or plan B.

I had a wonderful internship experience at 3M where I was able assist in Researching a proposed process change to determine the benefits and/or risks for the company and its workers. This opportunity allowed me to see the collaborate efforts of the different stakeholders in the company and how the occupational health nurse plays a key role in these collaborative efforts.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

The experiences gained and the connections made during this program have been professionally and personally rewarding. The program was challenging and it provided a wide variety of coursework and experiences. I would recommend it to anyone looking to gain a solid foundation in occupational and environmental health nursing.

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Catherine GraeveCatherine Graeve, PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

Prior to enrolling in the doctoral program, I completed my MPH in occupational and environmental health nursing and found the courses fascinating. Before that, I worked in oncology and hospice as a nurse. I also volunteered in rural West Virginia with communities studying the health care delivery system and community public health.

What made you interested in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

I have always been interested in public health, and entered nursing school with that focus in mind. I worked for many years as a nurse in cancer care. I loved my job focusing on the care of patients and families, but also wondered about what could be done prevent such devastating illnesses. I wanted to learn more about environmental exposures, many of which happen in the workplace. Occupational health seemed like a logical place to focus public health prevention efforts.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The University of Minnesota is a dynamic institution with wonderful opportunities and amazing people.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

I worked as a Research Assistant for the National Children's Study while doing my MPH, where I learned a lot about how a large scale research study operates. I continued working for this study after graduation as a Community Liaison. While doing my PhD, I have been working limited hours as a Hospice Nurse. I continue to do this because I love the work and it is a good reminder of the reason why preventing illness is so important to individuals and families.

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

While I am still exploring all the directions public health might take me, I am currently interested in teaching public and occupational health to nursing students after I complete my PhD. I would also like to be involved in local community health research around environmental exposure and health disparities.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from your internship or plan B research paper.

As an MPH student, I developed a return on investment tool for occupational health nurses employed by small businesses to use in order to "prove their worth" in a quantitative way. Exploring the business side of health was new to me and I discovered how important translating such important care into dollars is for management. It was also encouraging to see how helpful on-site occupational health professionals can be for workers, especially those without health insurance.

If you are a PhD student describe your dissertation objective and approach.

My dissertation will be an intervention study focusing on occupational exposure to chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is very important to patients who need it, but can be very harmful to those unnecessarily exposed. I am working with Fairview Hospital to survey healthcare staff, sample areas in the environment for chemotherapy residue, and develop and implement a quality improvement intervention to potentially improve worker health and safety.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

This is a fabulous learning opportunity with excellent professors, support staff and fellow classmates.

 

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Josh GramlingJosh Gramling, PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

I worked as a staff nurse from 2004-2009. From 2009 to present I have worked as a clinical educator and supervisor.

What made you interested in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

I am passionate about prevention of health insults, and occupational and environmental health nursing appealed to me most, as it has career opportunities that are very concrete in the field where I can work on projects, as well as have research opportunities that further my goals.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

When deciding on a graduate program, I looked at schools that had a strong reputation for graduate public health education. Although I worked in inpatient nursing I was interested in changing to a more public health-focused career path. The School of Nursing and the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota offered a dual Master's in Nursing and Public Health, which was the driving impetus for me to apply to this school. In the end I decided on pursuing a PhD in Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing after I finished my Masters of Science in Nursing.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

From 2009 to present I have worked as a clinical educator and supervisor on the Surgery, Trauma, and Neurological Sciences Unit at Hennepin County Medical Center.

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

I am undecided. I intend on becoming a professor at some point, but I would like to work more in the field of public and occupational health before pursuing a professorship. In the short term, I have interest in working for an international organization that focuses on improving health of populations.

If you are a PhD student describe your dissertation objective and approach.

For my dissertation, I am researching injuries to hospital security guards. I will be reviewing data from two hospitals to see if there are associations between restraint usage and rates of injuries to security workers.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I think this field is exceptional in terms of career potential, and the staff and faculty of the program are very supportive of students pursuing research interests.

 

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Rick HueweRick Huewe, MPH Candidate

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

I had worked as a hospital staff nurse prior to enrolling in the program. I spent one year working in intensive care and five years in kidney dialysis.

What made you interested in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

A rotation at nursing school first sparked my interest in public health. A previous negative experience with an injury at work made me realize how important workplace safety is to one's wellbeing and perception of the workplace and employer. I felt like this was an area where I could make a difference.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I went out of state for my undergraduate degree and after moving home to Minnesota I really wanted to attend a university within my community. The School of Public Health has an excellent reputation and the financial assistance from NIOSH available made a graduate degree more feasible for me.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

I continued to work part time as an acute care staff nurse while working on my graduate degree and I transitioned to a position as an employee occupational health nurse when I had finished most of my coursework.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

I was able to acquire my current position as an occupational health nurse for a local hospital thanks to the education and experienced gained at the School of Public Health. I plan on continuing to work in this capacity when I graduate.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from your internship or plan B research paper.

I completed an internship with 3M where I gained a better understanding the role and scope of practice of occupational health nurses at corporate and manufacturing sites. I also gained experience with occupational health nursing documentation, essential function analysis, interacting with employees and management, and empowering workers in their own care.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I would strongly recommend the program. It gave me a better understanding of the relationship between the environment and health, and a strong foundation for my work as an occupational health nurse.

 

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kvaleHayley Hurlbut, MPH Candidate

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

Before enrolling into the MPH Occupational & Environmental Health Nursing program I was working at a private Occupational Medicine Clinic for 1 year. I also joined MAOHN within that same year to get to know my new colleagues. I gained experience working with drug/alcohol testing, workers compensation injuries, hearing conservation, and respirator fit testing for many different companies/clients. We also were involved with doing Department of Transportation exams which included pilots, railroad workers, gas workers, semi-truck drivers, and coast guard personal. I worked with many veterans and companies to assist in the completion of independent medical exams as well.

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

I became interested in occupational and environmental health nursing once I started my new job at the clinic I was working for. As I gained experience, I enjoyed helping the injured worker and was able to visualize positive outcomes when dealing with prevention in the workplace. For example we saw many pilots and were able to detect Diabetes before they may have with their PCP. Pilots are required to see an "AME," aviation medical examiner every 6 month if a 1st class captain. We see these pilots more than they saw their PCP. Also personally I saw my father go through a work injury that had turned our family in a whole new direction. I truly had both perspectives work experience and personal life experience that helped me gain a complete interest to the field.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I chose University of Minnesota due to location, colleagues, and the program. I was living in Minnesota at the time and knew that I always wanted to get my Masters. I didn't need to commute too far to complete this program. After getting more experience in the field I was able to meet many great colleagues which included the OEHN advisors at the U of M who encouraged me to apply for the program. These colleagues have been great, mentors, friends, and have gave me the best support and encouragement. Also the OEHN program has been a hidden gem in my eyes. This program allowed me to combine my great working experience to the foundations of public health. This combination has flourished me as a co-worker, person, and colleague.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

While working on my degree, I stayed at the Occupational Medicine clinic that I originally started at. Since completing my course work, I have moved and currently work in a Rehabilitation & Physical Medicine clinic where I still have the pleasure of seeing patients with work related injuries. I also took on two other roles that are more occupational focused which include CPR instructor for our employees as well as Department Safety Coordinator where I assist with hazard material inventories, evacuation plans, and any safety changes that are made within our organization.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

When finishing my degree, I hope to acquire a leadership role within a healthcare system. I have gained a lot of great personal, professional, and educational experiences since starting my degree. I enjoy working with employees, educating them, and giving guidance in the workplace which is a necessity in leadership roles. It would be a bonus if I could work in a department that focuses on public health or occupational medicine; however most of the patient I have seen in the past and present have had a need for public health treatment plans or were coming in for a work injury. Therefore even if I am not working in a specific occupational medicine department, I still have the pleasure of seeing that patient population.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from either your internship or plan B.

My plan B project surrounds return to work regulations related to drug and alcohol use for the populations that include pilots and truck drivers. The major learnings that I have gained are there are many layers of differences between the two populations, governmental policy can be at times grey, and a program that is comprehensive has increased positive outcomes. Some examples of differences between the two populations include cost of services, access to services, and comprehensive treatment plans. Grey areas that are of concern are state by states regulations as well as professional interpretation of a ruling. As for the comprehensive approach research from the HIMS program has shown only a 10-12% relapse rate and that was a lifetime relapse rate on 4000 airman.
Download the pdf: https://www.alpa.org/portals/alpa/magazine/2007/ND2007_HIMS.pdf.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

The program is great! The program has allowed me to fully understand the basic ground concepts of public health, population management, and has led me to great career networking. I have been able to experience projects with groups, 3M Occupational Medicine Department, University of Minnesota Dental lab, and walk through different companies for example Nordic ware that is the maker of the "bunt cake." The program also provides you with great advisors and colleagues that will be there for you even when you complete the program. I truly recommend this program to a nurse that enjoys working with the working population, educating the public, and caring for those in need.

 

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