Bedside nurses are more valuable than words, and they have helped save SO many lives in the COVID-19 global pandemic. However, before burn out makes you change careers entirely, do some research on non-bedside nursing positions. There are several jobs available that still allow you to care for others in various entities of nursing. Positions like Case Management, Telehealth, and Occupational/Employee Health Nurse are a few examples.
Of course, every Employee Health department will vary from facility to facility. However, when working as a nurse in Employee Health, one may generally be responsible for helping on-board new hires, ensuring employees have updated immunizations, caring and counseling employees when exposures occur, monitoring COVID-19 positive employees via telephone, completing N-95 mask fit testing, supervising COVID-19 vaccine sites, and more.
Depending on the facility, the new hire assessments scheduled daily can range from 30-60 individuals. Major tasks of on-boarding new hires includes placing and reading TB skin tests and searching for an individual’s immunization records, which include vaccines for Hepatitis B, MMR, Varicella, Flu, TDAP, etc. If immunization records cannot be found by the individual or the nurse, titers may be necessary to check for immunity. Also, additional vaccines may be needed (if written consent is obtained from new hire).
One thing that helps in on-boarding new hires is when employees have all their documentation organized. Before arriving at an appointment as a healthcare professional, Employee Health staff love it when you have everything documented in advance. We suggest securely storing your immunizations here with Kamana’s free Digital Wallet. It really makes the process smoother and less time-consuming.
Current employees may present to Employee Health to report exposures and on-the-job injuries, have their blood pressure checked, update their vaccines, get titers drawn to verify immunity, have TB skin tests placed and read, complete their annual N-95 respirator mask fit test, and more. As a nurse in Employee Health, one must be also able to recognize when a medical emergency call must be made to ensure the employee receives the further follow-up care they need.
In a healthcare setting, various exposures may occur. As an Employee Health Nurse, one must be educated on the different protocols for each type of incident. Exposures to infectious components include but are not limited to tuberculosis, scabies, lice, influenza, meningitis, COVID-19, and bloodborne pathogens. Bloodborne pathogens of concern include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). If an employee is exposed via needlestick, cut, bite, scratch, splash, etc., the nurse will assess the situation to see if further follow-up for several months is needed. If HIV or HBV prophylaxis medication is necessary, the nurse will consult with the MD to discuss the best treatment options for the employee.
As a healthcare professional, check out how to minimize your exposure risk to bloodborne pathogens here on the Kamana blog.
During the global pandemic, nurses in Employee Health are responsible for answering and directing calls from employees regarding exposures and symptoms to see if they qualify for COVID-19 testing. In addition, some employers included monitoring positive COVID-19 employees via telephone during their isolation periods. The nurse is responsible for calling his or her employee list daily to assess symptoms, escalate to the MD, and send the employee to the ER or clinic, if necessary. Once the employee has completed their isolation period, the nurse will assess the employee and discuss with the Infectious Disease MD to determine if the employee has met all of the criteria for them to safely return to work.
In Employee Health, a day with scheduled pre-hire assessments may hold a certain routine; however, we assist our employees with updating their occupational health needs and assist them whenever an exposure of any kind occurs, so the day may also be unpredictable at times. I love being part of a team that cares for the individuals who take care of the patients. It is a privilege to care for the employees, and while we ensure the employees’ safety with immunizations, exposures, etc., it also decreases risks to patients.
Special thanks to Melea Hodge, MSN, RN for contributing to this article. Melea Hodge is an Employee Health nurse at a large healthcare organization. Melea has been a nurse for almost 5 years, and has several years of experience in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and holds an MSN degree in Nursing Informatics. She enjoys staying active, taking family walks with her husband and her puppy, and spending time with friends