Keeping Employees Healthy

Fifty six thousand workers die in the U.S. every year due to injuries in the workplace or work-related injuries and nearly three million become disabled from the injuries. Therefore, protecting the health of workers is critical to the bottom line of employers. The Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner’s primary focus is preventing work-related illnesses and injuries and protecting health and safety among workers. And because it is a road needed, but not pursued by many, there is a lot of scholarship opportunity available.

Julie Rochefort, MSN ’06, has been an occupational health nurse for Exxon Mobil for 18 years. Her job responsibilities are wide and varied – she is responsible for OSHA compliance for health surveillance exams and case manages workers compensation claims. She leads health promotion efforts including a yearly health fair and cholesterol screenings. She sees employees as patients, and she works with HR to help employees who have had health issues on accommodations or finding other opportunities.

“There are not a lot of occupational health nurses, so it’s a great career.  And working in a corporate environment provides financial security.”

One of the most exciting things Rochefort has done is train with the fire brigade “I actually got to repel down the side of a building.  That was cool.”

There was never a question that Nila Cainglit was going to be a nurse (she was following in her mom’s footsteps), but she always had this side interest industry, economics and manufacturing.

“Occupational health nurse is not a largely sought out occupation.  But it offers so much opportunity,” added Cainglit, who now works at Amgen. “It is a blended role – a combination of clinical and administrative. and you get to be a strategic partner.

“Amgen is an innovative company in the science field. Everyday I am meeting people that are doing interesting and exciting things and I am energized by them.”

About the Role

The Adult/Gerontology Primary Nurse Practitioner Occupational and Environmental Health (APRN) is a Registered Nurse educated at the master's level as a nurse practitioner. The Occupational and Environmental Health APRN specialty focuses on the theory and advanced practice of adult primary care in the occupational health setting. Nurses are prepared to evaluate, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests and to manage and direct care of client response or potential problems that may be acute or chronic. Practitioners evaluate the individual as seen within the work setting as well as within the context of the family unit and community group. The APRN is educated to provide continual and comprehensive wellness and illness care to adults by providing preventive health services, patient education, disease management and illness prevention with emphasis on occupational and environmental hazard identification and control, screening, surveillance and rehabilitation of workers. The APRN is prepared to implement evidence-based practice guidelines and to critically analyze and adapt healthcare interventions based on individualized assessments of individual/family/community needs. The APRN practices in the context of community, with broad knowledge, sensitivity and awareness of the specific needs of people from diverse populations and cultural backgrounds. Adult nurse practitioners practice primarily in ambulatory care settings.

At UCLA, students in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program take coursework in the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing to prepare them for a role on interdisciplinary teams addressing worker health and safety in today's global economy with increasingly complex and diverse work settings.

Education: Master of Science in Nursing


  • Eligible for the American Nurses' Credentialing Center's certification exam as an Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • Eligible for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner's certification exam as an Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • Eligible for the American Board of Occupational Health Nursing's certification exam as a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist
  • Eligible for prescriptive authority in all 50 states with restrictions as specified by each state

Types of Care Provided by the Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

  • Episodic care for acute conditions for adults of all ages, including minor acute injuries and illnesses
  • Comprehensive care in a variety of outpatient primary care, community, and occupational settings
  • Management of chronic conditions such as HTN, diabetes, asthma and work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • Monitoring and case management/consultation of more acute conditions such as cardiac diseases and neuromuscular conditions and workers' compensation cases

Advanced Practice Nurses Also Perform These General Functions

  • Obtain health histories and perform comprehensive physical examinations, including psychosocial, functional and developmental assessment
  • Order and interpret lab results and other diagnostic studies
  • Develop differential diagnoses
  • Develop/order therapeutic plan of care including prescription medications
  • Maintain patient records
  • Evaluate patient's response to plan of care and modify as needed
  • Provide patient/family counseling and education
  • Arrange for patient referrals/consultations
  • Participate in research studies
  • Collaborate with other health team members
  • Collaborate with other disciplines in the identification and control of occupational and environmental hazards

Course Sequence